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'Trouble in Toyland' report warns of privacy invasion devices

November 20, 2018 06:40 PM

ALBANY - Big sales later this week have many people looking to check off holiday shopping lists. That's why experts are warning people about some potentially dangerous toys.

The 33rd annual "Trouble in Toyland" report was released Tuesday. It found a number of popular products could pose risks to children.

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Aside from some toys having choking hazards, there's also a risk for your child to be exposed to Boron in certain brands of glow-in-the-dark slime. You can also put your child's privacy at risk by getting them an interactive "smart toy."

"It makes sense for people to get used to and comfortable with technology," Executive Director of New York Public Interest Research Group Blair Horner said. "The issue over here is drawing the line on privacy."

Horner said interactive toys, like the Wonder Workshop Dash Robot, could impact a child's privacy protection for the rest of his or her life.

"So increasingly the privacy of the child, certainly as the kid gets bigger, could be compromised through toys like this [Dash Robot]," Horner said.

Adam Dean is a senior specialist with Greycastle Security. Dean said it's fairly safe to assume any products that need an internet connection are collecting some type of data from you.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) makes it illegal to collect data from children under the age of 13 without parent consent. The problem is most parents agree to it while registering or setting up the product.

"I don't think it's so much that the data can't be shared or it shouldn't be shared. I think it's more, needs to be controlled and it needs to be well-known to the user what kind of data is being shared," Dean said.

Dean said there's a simple, but cumbersome solution.

"Reading the privacy policies and reading why it's connecting to the Internet," Dean said. "So if you're buying a stuffed animal, it shouldn't need to connect to the Internet."

Dean said the type and volume of data being collected varies depending on the device.

"Location data, where this toy is so they can generate demographics on, OK people in New York like this way better than in Texas," Dean said. "Or it's more personal information such as, you know, if it's voice activated they may gather information about your voice and possibly even listen a little bit more than they should be."

You can get the full "Trouble in Toyland" report on Toysafetytips.org.

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Emily Burkhard

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