Toys Collecting Data – 7

This week, I continued researching the topic of AI in Toys, I decided read an article titled “Toymakers are tracking more data about kids — leaving them exposed to hackers” written by  the Washington Post’s Andrea Peterson. In this article, Andrea Discuss how toy manufacturers are increasingly producing and marketing high-tech toys that link dolls and games to the Internet, as well as information about the kids playing with them. Many products collect general personal information such name, birthdate, mailing address, and email address. Some toys also collect usage data such as browsing history and downloads, while others may even collect photos and videos of the users. The toys are marketed to children who may be unaware of the potential risks involved. A notable cyber attack in 2015 showed just how dangerous the toys could be when hackers attacked toy manufacturer VTech and were able to link to stolen data about kids back to their home address. In the article, Andrea explains that “toy companies are rushing to cash in on the changing nature of childhood in the Big Data era” but are not capable of safeguarding the data they collect. Toy manufactures are essentially linking children to a large surveillance network. Mattel’s Hello Barbie is one the newest toys that has privacy watchdogs on high alert. Hello Barbie will use an AI that is capable of voice regition, to collect and store data during conversations the user has with the toy. The data will allow Barbie to recall information from previous conversations while having a real-time conversation with the user. Mattel assures customers in press releases that information will be safeguarded however their own privacy statements explains “Please be aware, however, that despite our efforts, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable and no method of data transmission that can be guaranteed against any interception or other type of misuse.” Knowing that most people will never read Mattel is able to avoid taking responsibility for stolen data because in the terms and conditions of the product they say that purchasing the product is acknowledgement of security or privacy risks. After reading completing the article I began to think about the ethics involved in the issue. In my opinion it’s high priority to protect kids and with this particular issue I think that the government should step in and require toy manufacturers to achieve a certain level of security before their products are sold to the public. As more and more devices collect voice, video, and photos; I feel that the privacy risks are even greater and the law makers and toy manufacturers should be begin to address the privacy problems before the technology becomes more widespread. Soon the toys will have the name, address, picture, and voice, of the child using it. In my opinion, those toys are valuable to security threats and would not want any future kids of mine to play with them knowing they could be hacked.


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