Digital Privacy groups taking down 2016’s top holiday toys

Several privacy and consumer groups filed a complaint this morning with the FTC that alleges that two talking toys, My Friend Cayla and I-Que Intelligent Robot pose privacy risks. The complaint asserts that the toys collects personal information shared by the child without the parent’s knowledge or consent how the data is used. The exact same issue happened last year with Mattel’s Hello Barbie as we covered on our blog back in January.

The toys are connected to the internet through a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone app. The data is collected and uploaded to a speech recognition software’s cloud and may also be used in other toys or sold to third parties. This is just one problem with “The Internet of Things” (IoT).  And ya know, it’s not just kid gifts.  Two of the hottest items on gift lists this year are the Amazon Echo and the Google Home. Both have the ability to  listen to you and what going on in your home and have tons of liberty regarding what they do with that Private information.

If you’re really concerned about keeping your conversations and what your computer camera see–private–please check out these Creep Blockers Microphone and Camera covers.

But back to the little ones and their scary toys:  Cayla is programmed with sentences that reference going to Disney World and going to Disney movie! This is difficult for your child to recognize as advertising at all, according to the complaint that was filed.  The terms of services for both toys are difficult to find and the document gives few details of where the information collected actually ends up.

There are toys that are trendy this year, such as Cozmo the robot, that uses an app that DOESN’T store or stream info to the cloud and keeps them on the smartphone in an effort to guard privacy. Another option is Hatchimals, which doesn’t use an app, phone or wireless technology at all. Hatchimals says they designed the toy in order to provide screen free time for kids. We like that idea.

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