In an increasingly digital world, more toys and devices aimed at children now have internet-connected technology. As the Christmas shopping season begins, many parents will be considering buying these for their children.
However, concerns have been raised globally, that the growth in toys containing sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage and other multi-media capabilities could put the privacy and safety of children at risk. There have also been data protection concerns relating to some products over what data is collected, by whom, where it is stored and how it is secured.
In response to these concerns, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) wants parents to consider data protection and privacy issues in the same way they would check on the safety of other presents they are planning to give to their children.
The ICO has urged those buying connected items in the coming weeks, to think about both the child’s online safety, and also the potential threat to their own personal data such as bank details, if a toy, device or a supporting app is hacked into.
Unlike Santa, those looking to hack into your devices don’t care whether you’ve been naughty or nice! The ICO has thus provided the following advice for grown-ups considering buying smart toys and devices this Christmas:
Research the security of a product before buying!
Take care when shopping online! -Only use secure sites when shopping online.
Take your time! - Read the manual to get familiar with the security and privacy options.
Change passwords and usernames from default!
Is your router secure?Your router is the first line of defence.
If there’s a two-step identification option – use it!
Be camera aware – you never know who’s watching!
Location, location, location! -Get rid of default location tracking and GPS settings.
Bluetooth ache! -protect unsecured Bluetooth connections with a password or a PIN.
Children have information rights too -Children’s rights are an area of concern for ICO.
If in doubt, don’t splash out -If you aren’t convinced a device will keep your children’s personal information safe, then don’t buy it.
Have a secure Christmas!
By taking some time and care beforehand and following the ICO advice, you can still see a child’s face light up when they open their new, web-connected Christmas present, safe in the knowledge that you are keeping them secure as well as happy.
If you require advice on data protection issues including the upcoming changes to the law, please contact Andrew Swan or Sheila Ramshaw on 0191 232 0283 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and Sheila.Ramshaw@srflegal.co.uk respectively.