How smart are the smart toys you'll be buying for your children this holiday season? They'll likely be smarter than you think -- and you have no idea what information they're passing back and forth on the Internet.
The situation has prompted privacy and crime prevention specialists to issue a warning that some of these toys may be recording and collecting conversations, which could lead to personal information falling into the wrong hands, resulting in child identity theft.
Toy makers are supposed to make clear in any documentation what happens to information they collect and store but that's not always the case, especially with products made abroad.
Crime prevention specialists are advising parents to take all possible steps to ensure info about their kids remains secure.
Steps you can take include:
- Searching online for information about smart toys you're thinking of buying to see if there have been any issues or concerns. Find out exactly what these products do and how they store and use the information they collect.
- Switching off or disconnecting a toy from the Internet when not in use. This is important because some toys are capable of eavesdropping on any conversation, including adults', while they're standing by.
- If the toy needs you to sign on to the maker's or another website, don’t provide personal information that could be used in ID theft, and use strong passwords to protect your child's play talk.
In the US, the FBI has issued guidance for parents on what to look for and how to play it safe. Check out their advice here.