Sara Jodka writes:
… Smart toys first sparked interest in 2015 when Hello Barbie a connected-smart doll was introduced. Hello Barbie came equipped with a microphone, voice recognition software and artificial intelligence that allowed a call-and-response function between the child user and the doll (think how Siri works). The backlash and hacking concerns loomed so large Hello Barbie got its own Twitter hashtag, #HellNoBarbie.
There are many reasons why these toys/wearables are problematic and the privacy issues for each are analyzed differently based on functionality. Some that function like the Amazon Echo, and unlike Smartphones, are always on, and blend into the background of their users’ daily lives. They also collect a significant amount of personal information, some of it legally-protected, especially in the context of information about children and/or from children. Many are so sophisticated they are able to adapt to a child user’s actions and process information from many sensors through the use of microphones, voice sensors, cameras, compasses, gyroscopes, radio transmitters, or Bluetooth. Connected toys connect to the Internet, which allows remote servers to collect data to power the toy’s intelligence functionality.
There are a number of issues to consider when discussing smart toys marketed to and used by children: the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), state consent laws, constant connection, and, of course, privacy. Here is how it breaks down.
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