This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Your home’s Wi-Fi router is the central hub of your home internet network, which means that all of the traffic from all of the Wi-Fi devices under your roof passes through it on its way to the cloud. That’s a lot of data — enough so to make privacy a reasonable point of concern when you’re picking one out.
The problem is that it’s next to impossible for the average consumer to glean very much about the privacy practices of the companies that make and sell routers. Data-collection practices are complicated to begin with, and most privacy policies do a poor job of shedding light on them. Working up the will to read through the lengthy legal-speak that fills them is no small task for a single manufacturer, let alone several of them. Even if you make it that far, you’re likely to end up with more questions than answers.
Fortunately, I have a strong stomach for fine print, and after spending the last few years testing and reviewing routers here on CNET, most manufacturers tend to respond to my emails when I have questions. So, I set out to dig into the details of what these routers are doing with your data — here’s what I found. (You can also find out why your Wi-Fi router may be in the wrong spot, and where to find the best internet speed tests.)
All of the problems with privacy policies