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FBI issues warning to parents over internet-connected toys

Tyrone Stewart

Soft toyThe FBI has issued a warning to parents over the privacy and safety risks posed to children by the technologies featured in smart toys and entertainment devices.

The US law enforcement agency points out that certain devices for children contain “sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components and other multimedia capabilities – including speech recognition and GPS options”.

It warns that toys with microphones could record and collect conversations, helping the toymaker, third parties or even hackers gain information such as the child’s name, school, interests, and activities. The Bureau also brings attention to the fact that, due to internet connectivity and companies collecting data, the child is at high risk of identity fraud – while GPS location information and photos and videos could put the child at risk of exploitation.

To prevent children being exposed to these risks, the FBI also made recommendations on how parents can make sure their child is as safe as possible using internet-connected toys. Recommendations include researching reported security issues, only connecting with trusted and secured wi-fi, reading disclosures and privacy policies, ensure toys are turned off when not in use, and more.