Toys with AI and their Privacy Concerns – 6

Continuing my research into the topic of AI in Toys, I began to look at how the toys collected data and where the data stored and how it was stored. I also thought about what information was being collected and whether or not the data was stored securely. Looking for answers I began reading different articles about the privacy concerns of AI infused Toys. One of the articles that caught my attention was written by Cheyeene Macdonald a writter for the Tech and Science section in the UK’s DailyMail News publication. In her article, Cheyeene explains that the Norwegian Consumer Council a consumer watchdog group states that a popular manufacture of AI infused toys Genesis Toys fails to disclose privacy concerns two of their most popular toys My Friend Cayla and I-Que. The group claims that “the toys collect and use personal information, including audio of the children’s voices, and could even allow strangers to eavesdrop.” According to the Norwegian Consumer Council, there are several issues with internet-connected toys, including: lack of security, illegal user terms, kids’ secrets are personal information is shared, and the kids are subject to hidden marketing. The group is arguing that Genesis Toys does not take ‘reasonable security measures’ to prevent an unauthorized person from using Bluetooth to connect with the toy.In a recent video, Finn Myrstad, Head of Digital Services Section at the Norwegian Consumer Council, demonstrates how “this can easily be done with a smartphone – and from a considerable distance.” Another concern mentioned in the article is that children often confide in toys and tell them personal information, currently there is nothing is privacy terms that prevents a company from collecting any audio or video and using the data recorded for targeted marketing, or share it with a third party. Complaints have been filed by groups such as the FTC, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC), the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), Consumers Union, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The groups argue that “data is collected without proper parental consent and there no restrictions on what can be done with data.” I relate most to a statement by CCFC’s Executive Director Josh Golin where he explains that ‘Children form friendships with dolls and toys with ‘personalities,’ and confide intimate details about their lives with them. It is critical that the sensitive data collected by these toys be subject to the most stringent protections and not be used for manipulative and sneaky marketing.’ I was surprised to read that there’s so little privacy protection from hacking and also that the data collect by the toys could be given to a third party. In my opinion, those two security concerns alone are enough to warrant legislation. At the very minimum the companies should have to disclose the vulnerabilities and that the data will be collected, stored, and may be given to a third party. In my opinion, it is unethical for toy manufacturers such as Genesis Toys to sell toys that be exploited so easily, I think that government should set some basic guidelines that require companies to disclose the security concerns of their products as well as if, how, and why data will be collected through the toy.


One thought on “Toys with AI and their Privacy Concerns – 6

  1. Hi Matthew! I totally agree with your opinion. While I’m not a parent, I still understand the legal and privacy issues with someone connecting to a device to eavesdrop. Especially because it’s eavesdropping on a child, unbeknownst to the parents. I also think that with the invention of these new toys, there should be some standards put in place to protect children and families. It’s easy to see hackers using this method to find out sensitive information about the parents and using it for illegal purposes.


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