Toys that listen spark privacy concerns

Hello Barbie
Hello Barbie is designed to take part in conversations with kids. (Mattel Photo)

The kids who play with internet-connected toys such as Hello Barbie and CogniToys Dino may not fully realize their voices are being recorded – but when they find out, University of Washington researchers say even the little ones understand the privacy concerns.

“That’s pretty scary,” one child was quoted as saying.

The researchers explored the attitudes of kids and parents toward Wi-Fi-enabled toys in a study presented today at the CHI 2017 computer conference in Denver.

The study found strong support for parental controls, leading the researchers to recommend taking such controls to the next level. They suggested that toys should be designed to delete their recordings after a week, or that parents should be given the ability to delete conversations permanently.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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