Author: Caroline Knorr / Source: Detroit News
If you don’t want to have the bejesus scared out of you, don’t talk to an expert on kids’ online privacy. If you knew what was really out there — online predators, identity thieves, data miners — you’d lock up the internet and throw away the key.
The truth is, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The internet is so woven into our lives, we need to be aware of the worst-case scenarios that can strike when we’re unprepared. Below are a few of those scary things that can and do happen. But with some eyes and ears to the ground, they are totally preventable.
1.Your kid could be spied on. Smart toys including My Friend Cayla, Hello Barbie, and CloudPets are designed to learn and grow with your kid. Cool, right? Unfortunately, many of these toys have privacy problems. As the 2015 data breach of Vtech’s InnoTab Max uncovered, hackers specifically target kids because they offer clean credit histories and unused Social Security numbers that they can use for identity theft. These toys also collect a lot of information about your kid, and they aren’t always clear about when they do it and how they use it.
2. Your kid could get accused of a crime. Everyone has the right to privacy, especially in their own home. But home assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Mattel Aristotle are designed to butt their noses into conversations. These devices collect — and store — untold amounts of data. It’s unclear what the companies do with the extraneous “noise” they pick up. And if it’s subpoenaed, they might have to hand it over. Say your kid jokes about terrorism or something else illegal; if there’s an investigation into those activities, the companies might have to cough up the transcripts. In Arkansas, a prosecutor asked for a murder suspect’s Echo smart speaker in case its information could shed light on the crime. The suspect agreed to hand over the recordings, and Amazon was compelled to make them available.
Protect yourself. Turn off your home assistant’s microphone when you’re not using it. You also can prune your data in your devices’ app settings, deleting stuff you don’t want to store on your phone or in the companies’ cloud servers. Or choose not to use a home assistant until the…
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