EPIC and a coalition of consumer privacy groups have asked the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on companies that sell internet-connected toys and smartwatches. The statement highlights an FTC complaint concerning My Friend Cayla and I-Que Intelligent Robot, toys that recorded and analyzed children’s conversations filed more than a year ago. Many retailers worldwide have pulled these toys from their shelves, but the FTC has yet to take action on the complaint. “Connected toys raise serious privacy concerns,” said EPIC President Marc Rotenberg. “Kids should play with their toys and their friends, and not with surveillance devices dressed as dolls.” EPIC has backed many efforts to limit the risks of internet-connected toys. Recently, EPIC joined consumer groups in asking Mattel to cancel plans to sell Aristotle, an “always on” device that records the private conversations of young children. EPIC also supported a coalition letter asking the FTC to investigate smartwatches that track the location of children. The Norwegian Consumer Council has uncovered similar problems with Cayla and i-Que, and recently released a report on toys that track children.
Isn’t this the type of consumer privacy issue that would have best been dealt with much more promptly? I realize that in our country, government doesn’t – and generally shouldn’t – jump in to squash business or commerce, but some risks and potential parade of horribles seem clearer than others, no?