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Smart toys warning

2017 - December, News and events

Many of this year's 'must have' toys and gadgets include internet-connected technology. That might be sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage or multi-media features. But are you putting your children's privacy and safety at risk if you buy them?

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued a warning to parents, guardians and others about data protection issues connected to 'smart' gifts. The ICO is the UK's independent body set up to uphold information rights.

Concerns have been raised in recent months about the data smart toys and devices collect, and how it is used. The ICO wants everyone to remember that an internet-enabled device is a potential gateway for hackers to reach private data. And they have set up a series of guidelines to help avoid problems.

Among their recommendations are: research the item's security before you buy; beware scams if you shop online; before you wrap the gift, make sure you read the handbook so you know how it works; and check the security on your home network.

On Christmas morning, change passwords from the default settings, and use a different password for each device. If the toy won't let you change the password you should consider whether it is too risky to keep.

Smart watches offer the ability for parents to know where their child is, but if set up isn't secure it could allow other people to find them too. Take extra care with location information.

The ICO briefing says: “In the same way that safety standards are a primary consideration for shoppers buying toys, we want those buying connected items to pause and think about the child's online safety, and also the potential threat to their own personal data such as bank details, if a toy, device or supporting app is hacked into.  

“By taking some time and care beforehand and following our 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."

To find out more follow this link to the ICO's website: https://iconewsblog.org.uk/2017/11/23/the-12-ways-that-christmas-shoppers-can-keep-children-and-data-safe-when-buying-smart-toys-and-devices/#more-3158

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