Verizon GizmoWatch

Warning: *privacy not included with this product

Verizon GizmoWatch

Verizon
Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 9, 2022

|
|

Mozilla says

|
People voted: Not creepy

Verizon sells this rather bare bones smartwatch/wrist phone alongside a cell service plan. The watch, targeted at the younger kid age-group who aren't quite old enough to have a phone of their own, lets parents and caregivers track kids with GPS location, set up a list of 10 trusted contacts that the child can call, set up reminders, track steps, and push to-do lists. Parents have to download the GizmoHub app to manage and monitor the smart watch. Parents might love the ability to track their kids everyone (although there are probably better options out there to do this). However, Verizon doesn't exactly have the best track record at protecting their users' privacy, so that's something parents should consider before strapping this device on their 6 year old's wrist.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Verizon isn’t exactly known as a company with a good reputation for protecting and respecting their user’s privacy. In fact, they’ve actually been kinda awful. There’s the proposed fine from the Federal Communications Commission for failing to protect consumer’s location data (they were accused of selling access to it when they shouldn’t have). There are the reports of them forcing people (even those who opt- out) into letting them look at your browsing history, including the websites you go to, what apps you use, and potentially even who you called or texted. And then there is their terrible stance on net neutrality (the idea that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, not given special treatment depending on where it comes from). Remember when they got caught throttling the data of California firefighters trying to battle a huge blaze in 2018. Yeah, Verizon isn’t exactly the most trustworthy company when it comes to privacy.

So, when they offer up a Gizmowatch and GizmoHub app for kids that can track them using GPS, uses cellular data to send calls, voice and text messages, as well as track steps and more, we admit, we were skeptical. Why would anyone want to let a company with such a history of privacy violations and bad acting track their young child?

So, are the GizmoWatch and GizmoHub app as bad as we feared? Yes, it seems so. Verizon’s privacy policies (there’s a bunch of them, they do get a little confusing, but hey, they have a page where they happily allow you to “get to know our privacy policies,” so, yay, probably just what you’ve always wanted to do.) say that Verizon can collect a whole lot of personal information and data on you and your child. They say in their Gizmo specific privacy policy they can collect things like your name, mobile telephone number, email address, and your child’s name, age and gender, as well as email address, mobile telephone number, audio and video call and messages sent between your trusted contact and your child. That’s the information they say they collect on you and your kid. Then they add what additional information they collect on your child, which includes device identifiers (such as mobile telephone number), geolocation and audio call usage. messaging usage, the number of steps taken, and text messages exchanged between your child and you and between your child and your trusted contacts. So, the tl;dr of all that is, Verizon collects a lot of information.

And what does Verizon say they can do with this information? Well, they say this, “We use the information we collect to deliver, maintain, support and improve Gizmo services, including to provide you with precise geolocation information for your Gizmo devices, and for analytics. Approximate geolocation identifying an area of approximately 2/3 of a mile radius of your child may also be used by our partner Accuweather to provide weather updates if requested by GizmoWatch Disney Edition and GizmoWatch 2 users.” Which sounds like it might be fine, but also is rather vague. They do also say they can share this personal information with service providers but promise to not allow any of that personal information to be used “for behavioral advertising, to compile profiles, or any other purpose.” That sounds pretty OK. Except, Verizon has been caught in the past collecting or using personal information in ways they said they wouldn’t, so you have to trust Verizon and their service providers and business affiliates to protect and respect you and your child’s personal information. Which might be OK. It also might not be, so please be aware of that.

What’s the worst that could happen with Verizon’s GizmoWatch? Well, if Verizon were to share or sell location information that they said they wouldn’t as they were accused of in the past, that’s probably not personal information you want shared on your or your kid, right? Because no one needs to know where your kid is all the time, except for maybe you and your trusted contacts. And the thought of that data being up for sale on your child 12 and under (or even 13 and up) is pretty dang freaky if you ask us. So, please think carefully before getting one of these smartwatches (or any smartwatch) for your kid.

One final consideration. We think there is a good question to be raised about teaching young children that the level of digital surveillance this smartwatch provides is OK. Maybe we should track kids a little bit less, and teach them constant surveillance isn’t exactly a good thing?

Tips to protect yourself

  • Parents, keep a sharp eye on parent controls and permissions.
  • 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 Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: No

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

Apple and Google log-ins available

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Verizon may be selling data as the term 'sale' is defined in CCPA. Verizon is combining users' data with personal data obtained from third parties.

"We share personal information with service providers who work on our behalf. These service providers are contractually obligated to use personal information shared with them solely to help us provide Gizmo services and not for behavioral advertising, to compile profiles, or any other purpose."

"We do not sell information that personally identifies you such as your name, telephone number, mailing address or email address."

"We also obtain information from others. This includes:
Credit information from outside agencies
Demographic and interest data as well as device type, carrier, city and state information from third party data providers
Information from social media platforms when you interact with us via social media or use your social media login to interact with Verizon sites or offers
Contact, marketing lead and other information we purchase or receive
Fraud information "

"We allow third-party advertising companies to collect information about your activity on our websites and in our apps, for example through cookies and similar technologies, mobile ad identifiers, pixels, web beacons and social network plugins. These ad entities use information they collect to help us provide more relevant Verizon advertisements and other advertising purposes. This activity may be considered a sale under the CCPA. "

How can you control your data?

It is unclear if children's data can always be deleted.

"If consent is revoked, Smart Family precise device geolocation and web and app and driving activity monitoring services will not be available within Smart Family for those child lines, although approximate device location from the wireless network will continue to be available. Parents may also review the device identifier, geolocation, web browsing and app activity, contact list and driving data that has been collected from designated child lines. For more information or assistance with these choices, you can contact us at [email protected] "

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

Bad

In 2021, Verizon overrided users’ opt-out preferences in push to collect browsing history.

In 2020, a fine of $48.3M was proposed by FCC against Verizon in Location Information Case.

Verizon was fined in 2018 for selling users' locations.

In 2017, Verizon suffered a breach with 6million records involved.

Child Privacy Information

Information we collect from your child (including children under 13).
When your child uses GizmoTablet, we collect device identifiers and usage information about GizmoTab Kids World, such as the name of apps used and amount of use. When your child uses a Gizmo wearable, we collect device identifiers (such as mobile telephone number), geolocation and audio call usage. When your child uses Gizmo Gadget, GizmoWatch, GizmoWatch2, GizmoWatch Mickey Mouse 90th Anniversary Edition or GizmoWatch Disney Edition, we also collect messaging usage, the number of steps taken, and text messages exchanged between your child and you and between your child and your trusted contacts. These devices, other than GizmoGadget, also collect audio messages exchanged between your child and you and between your child and your trusted contacts. If your child uses GizmoWatch Disney Edition, we also collect photo and video messages exchanged between your child and you, and between your child and your trusted contacts, which include other Gizmo device users if you add them as trusted contacts.

We use the information we collect to deliver, maintain, support and improve Gizmo services, including to provide you with precise geolocation information for your Gizmo devices, and for analytics. Approximate geolocation identifying an area of approximately 2/3 of a mile radius of your child may also be used by our partner Accuweather to provide weather updates if requested by GizmoWatch Disney Edition and GizmoWatch 2 users.

We do not collect more information from Gizmo devices than is reasonably necessary to deliver Gizmo services. Gizmo products and services do not allow children to make their personal information publicly available.

Can this product be used offline?

No

User-friendly privacy information?

No

A confusing list of privacy policies that aren't always clear on how personal information is used on consumers.

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

  • Privacy and Security Evaluation of the Verizon GizmoWatch
    Common Sense
  • Privacy Evaluation for GizmoHub
    Common Sense
  • Verizon faces scrutiny for automatically tracking subscriber information
    Consumer Affairs
  • The Best Smartwatches For Kids (And Parents) To Stay Connected
    Forbes
  • The Best Smartwatches and Phones for Kids
    The New York Times
  • Smartwatch Privacy for Kids During the Coronavirus Pandemic
    Common Sense
  • Verizon might collect your browsing data even if you previously opted out
    Engadget
  • Verizon customers might want to check their privacy settings ASAP
    Input
  • FCC Proposes $48.3M Fine against Verizon in Location Information Case
    Federal Communications Commission
  • How To Opt Out of Verizon’s New Data Collection Policy
    Clark
  • Verizon Breach: 6 Million Customer Accounts Exposed
    Bank Info Security
  • Verizon might be collecting your browsing history and here’s how to stop it
    The Verge
  • Verizon overrides users’ opt-out preferences in push to collect browsing history
    Ars Technica
  • Use the Verizon app? Check your settings to protect your privacy
    USA Today
  • The FCC Fines Wireless Companies for Selling Users' Location Data
    Wired

Comments

Got a comment? Let us hear it.