Nintendo Switch

Warning: *privacy not included with this product

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo
Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 1, 2023

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Mozilla says

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People voted: A little creepy

What would the world be like without Mario, Zelda, and Animal Crossing? Worse, for sure. Whether you play Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch or on the cheaper Switch Lite, you're still going to have a good time. And we've always liked that Nintendo puts a lot of emphasis on easy-to-use parental controls. Which is why we were bummed to see that Nintendo made some changes to their privacy policy in recent years that earned them our *Privacy Not Included warning label. And we're sad to say, they still raise enough concerns for us to warn you that your privacy might not be smashing with Nintendo.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Oh Nintendo, you keep breaking our heart. We don’t want to give you our *Privacy Not Included warning label, we really don’t. You’ve been good at privacy in the past. But your privacy policy raises too many questions and red flags for us and that makes us sad. (But hey, thank you for making your privacy policy easy to find and read, we do appreciate that.)

Just because Nintendo is cute and lovable, doesn't mean we can give them a pass for their privacy yucks. First, Nintendo does collect a fair amount of personal information. Things like name, email address, postal address, phone number, date of birth, country of residence, language, gender, device and advertising identifiers and other unique personal or online identifiers, location (with your consent), health information (with your consent), and lots of information about how and when and what games you play.

Nintendo also says they can “receive information about you from other sources, including from other users of our services, and third-party services and organizations.” This worries us a bit because they say they can take this information they receive from third party sources and combine it with information they have about you and build an even bigger profile on you. And they say they can use that information to do things like offer you customized content, provide you with tailored advertising, and send you promotional materials from them or their affiliates and business partners (which could be a pretty good number of companies). So, Nintendo collects a good deal of personal information and says they can use and share that with third parties for targeted, interest-based advertising. None of this is great. Let’s try this again: we hope that Nintendo will stop collecting and combining information from third parties and that they’ll make ad targeting optional for all users.

Nintendo also says they can aggregate or de-identify the personal information they collect on you and then that new de-identified data is no longer subject to their privacy policy and they can do pretty much whatever they want with it. Which is a bit of a concern as it’s been found to be pretty easy to re-identify some personal data, especially with location data is collected.

That’s the bad news with Nintendo. Now onto some good news. They do say that they do not, and will not, sell your data. Too bad they say they do share it with third parties for advertising purposes. And they do a good job with parental controls on the Switch. So parents, make sure to set those up (here’s some help with that). We also want to point out that their privacy policy is easy to find and read and understand, we really appreciate that.

As for security, Nintendo did have a data breach back in 2020 where 300,000 accounts were compromised and attackers gained access to users' personal information, including date of birth and email addresses. That's not great. And early in 2022, Nintendo had to ask users to stop using their Wi-Fi USB Connector due to security concerns.

So what’s the worst that could happen with your Nintendo Switch? Well, if you don’t set up two-factor authentication (please do this!), it’s possible someone could hack into your Nintendo account and buy a bunch of games at your expense. That could be costly and you don’t want that headache. Here’s hoping you set-up 2FA, lock down your Nintendo privacy settings and opt-out of as much data collection as you can, so you can sit back and enjoy some Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, or Sonic with your friends.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Check the Nintendo Switch privacy settings
  • Enable two-factor authentication on your Nintendo Switch account
  • Opt out of sharing your eShop data.
  • Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
  • Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
  • Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
  • Keep your app regularly updated
  • Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
  • Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
  • When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
  • mobile

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: Yes

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: No

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: No

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

We ding this product for combing users' data with data obtained from third parties and using it for advertising purposes. We're also concerned about Nintendo permitting third-parties to collect your personal information for advertising purposes.

Privacy policy

"With your consent, we may collect certain health information such as the number of steps taken or distance walked. We do not use this information for marketing or advertising purposes."

"We may also receive information about you from other sources, including from other users of our services, and third-party services and organizations. For example, if you access any social media or similar services through our services to login or to share information about your experience on our services with others, we may collect information from these third-party services. We may also combine the information received from these other sources with information we’ve collected from you."

"We do not, and will not sell your information to third parties. However, we permit third-party service providers to collect personal information, as described here, through some of our services and we share personal information with third party service providers for business purposes as described in this policy, including but not limited to providing advertising on our services and elsewhere based on users’ online activities over time and across different sites, services, and devices."

"We may share information for any other purposes disclosed to you at the time we collect the information or pursuant to your consent."

"We may share some or all of the categories of your personal information, as identified above, with third-party service providers that provide services to us for a variety of business purposes, such as payment processing, customer service, email deployment, advertising and marketing (including counting ad impressions, analyzing website clicks, verifying positioning and quality of ad impressions, ensuring compliance with industry standards, ad delivery, reporting, personalization, audience segmentation, and analytics), security enhancement, fraud prevention, performance monitoring, maintaining or servicing accounts, processing or fulfilling orders and transactions, information hosting, auditing, and information processing."

"We may aggregate or de-identify the information described above. Because aggregated and de-identified information cannot be used to identify you, it is not subject to this policy."

Advertising & Privacy Controls Page
"Ad Settings
We personalize our marketing communications and the advertisements we show to make them more interesting and useful to you. To do this, we use data from your devices and other data you share with us, including information about your gameplay, purchases, site visits, and topics you often explore. "

"Targeted Ads
When you use or interact with our services, including the Nintendo Account service, we collect certain information about your usage activities. Such usage information may include the content that you’ve played or purchased, or the Nintendo Account services or features that you utilized. We may process and share that usage information to provide you with targeted advertisements, so that content, products and services can be tailored to your preferences and the recommendations displayed to you are customized accordingly. This personalized content may be delivered to you by Nintendo or on behalf of Nintendo by its third-party partners and service providers.

If you would like to opt-out of the use and sharing of your information for the targeted advertisement purposes described above, you can do so at any time through your Nintendo Account settings by going here. For instructions on how to modify your opt-out preferences, please go here. Please note that if you opt-out of receiving targeted advertisements, you may still receive general advertisements, but they will not be tailored or customized based on your use and interaction with our services."

How can you control your data?

We ding this product as it is unclear if all users, regardless of which privacy laws they live under, have the same rights to have their data deleted.

Nintendo Privacy Policy

"Your controls, choices and rights
We offer you certain controls and choices regarding the information we collect, how the information is used, and how it is shared. These controls and choices include the ability to update, correct or delete information that you have provided to us or information that we have collected through your use of our services. They also include the ability to opt-out of receiving notifications, promotions, offers or other advertising from us.

You may have the right, in accordance with applicable law, to request access to, correction, or deletion of your information. For instructions on how to submit such a request go here.

We will not discriminate against you for exercising your rights and choices, however some of the functionality and features of our services may change, or no longer be available to you."

"Your information will only be retained as long as reasonably necessary for the purposes set out in this privacy policy, and in accordance with applicable law."

Advertising & Privacy Controls Page

"You can also request permanent deletion of all the information we hold about you. Once deleted, your information, including your Nintendo Account, and any purchases or content associated with your account, will be permanently deleted (for example, you will no longer be able to play any of the digital content you’ve purchased). However, we may retain certain information to comply with law or take other actions permitted by law. If you have a Nintendo Account and you would like to make a deletion request, please click here to sign into your Nintendo Account and then complete the request form."

"We offer you certain controls and choices regarding the information we collect, how the information is used, and how it is shared. These controls and choices include the ability to update, correct or delete information that you have provided to us or information that we have collected through your use of our services. They also include the ability to opt-out of receiving notifications, promotions, offers or other advertising from us."

"Depending on your place of residence, you may have the right to appeal the denial of a request submitted with us. If we were unable to process your request, and you would like to appeal the denial of your request, you may contact us to request that we re-evaluate the denied request. If you would like to submit an appeal with us, please contact us at [email protected]. We will respond to your appeal request within 45 days unless we need more time, in which case we will notify you."

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Average

In March 2023, Nintendo took the Wii U versions of Mario Kart 8, and Splatoon offline as it attempts to fix a security issue “related to online play”.

In 2022, Nintendo had to ask users to stop using their Wi-Fi USB Connector due to security concerns.

In April 2020, 300,000 Nintendo accounts were compromised in a data breach that granted the attackers access to users' personal information, including date of birth and email addresses.

Child Privacy Information

"We do not knowingly collect, use or share information from children under the age of 13 without verifiable parental consent or as permitted by law. Where a parent or legal guardian has provided consent, the child may be able to use his or her Nintendo Account to play certain third-party games and applications that are not published by Nintendo. Parents or guardians may review, modify, or delete the child’s personal information, or withdraw consent, by contacting us using the contact information provided at the end of this privacy policy, and may manage which third-party games and applications can access and use the child’s Nintendo Account information through your Nintendo Account profile settings."

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Nintendo has a privacy policy with fairly easy to read and understand language. They also provide easy to find links to submit privacy related requests.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Can’t Determine

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine

*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • Learn how to Secure your Data on the Nintendo Switch: Here’s How to Sign Out
    Razzem Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo Takes Wii U Versions of Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon Offline Over Security Issues
    IGN Link opens in a new tab
  • Recent updates for older Nintendo games were due to a major security vulnerability
    My Nintendo News Link opens in a new tab
  • Splatoon & Mario Kart 8 Wii U taken offline due to security concerns
    My Nintendo News Link opens in a new tab
  • How to Set Parental Controls on the Nintendo Switch
    Common Sense Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo wanted hacker's prison sentence to turn heads
    Axios Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo says account breach was even worse than it first thought
    Digital Trends Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo asks people to stop using Wi-Fi USB Connector due to security concerns
    Nintendo Everything Link opens in a new tab
  • How to Manage PlayStation, Switch, and Xbox Privacy Settings
    New York Times Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo Switch: How to Turn Off Data Sharing via Google Analytics
    Gadgets 360 Link opens in a new tab
  • How to Stop Nintendo From Sharing Your eShop Data With Google Analytics
    Lifehacker Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo now says 300,000 accounts breached by hackers
    TechCrunch Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo Breach: Now 300,000 Accounts Affected
    Infosecurity Magazine Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo data breach reportedly caused by credential stuffing
    TechRepublic Link opens in a new tab
  • Nintendo 2FA: How to enable two-factor authentication on your Nintendo Switch account
    Games Radar Link opens in a new tab
  • Open letter: Nintendo’s commitment to privacy on AR developments
    Access Now Link opens in a new tab
  • The Nintendo Switch Camera: Where It Is and How Does It Work?
    Lifewire Link opens in a new tab
  • How to Boost Your Game Console’s Security
    Lifehacker Link opens in a new tab

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