Parents have been urged to steer clear of “spy toys” designed to snoop on innocent kids’ lives in terrifying detail.
The FBI has issued an urgent notice concerning toys that are packed full of sensors, cameras and microphones to record a child’s words and GPS locators to track their whereabouts.
“Smart toys and entertainment devices for children are increasingly incorporating technologies that learn and tailor their behaviors based on user interactions,” it wrote in a statement.
“These features could put the privacy and safety of children at risk due to the large amount of personal information that may be unwittingly disclosed.”
Spy toys are now on sale across the world and last year parents were warned about a doll called My Friend Cayla which allegedly recorded kids’ conversations.
Parents were also concerned about a toy from Mattel called Aristotle which records words spoken by children and sends them back to the developers.
The FBI said toys fitted with microphones can “record and collect conversations within earshot of the device”, gathering information such as the child’s name, school, activities and “likes and dislikes”.
Other gadgets require kids to file a picture when starting a user account or hand over date of birth or address, which could be used in identity fraud.
But more worryingly, the toys can also reveal a child’s location and leave them open to “exploitation.”
Hackers could also crack into some gizmos and then talk to kids or spy on them without their parents’ knowledge.
The FBI had the following advice for parents: “Consumers should examine toy company user agreement disclosures and privacy practices, and should know where their family’s personal data is sent and stored, including if it’s sent to third-party services.
“Security safeguards for these toys can be overlooked in the rush to market them and to make them easy to use.
“Consumers should perform online research of these products for any known issues that have been identified by security researchers or in consumer reports.”
There is currently a huge trend for fitting internet-connected gadgets with cameras and sensors.
Author: Jasper Hamill