New report calls on toy companies to be more transparent in what data they collect, but the association says connected toys are not a risk to safety.
Readers may have seen some dramatic headlines regarding connected toys over the past months – “Internet-connected toys are capturing mountains of personal data about our kids”; “Don’t Get Your Kid an Internet-Connected Toy”; “Connected toys have ‘worrying’ security issues”.
Now, in response to a new report from the Children’s Commissioner for England, the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA) has released a statement outlining the measures it has put in place over the years to safeguard and protect children using connected toys, and highlighting the tiny proportion of connected toys currently available.
The report has called on internet firms and toy companies to be more transparent in what data they are collecting from children. Entitled ‘Who Knows What About Me’, it also calls for schools to begin teaching children about using social media and how their data is collected, as well as urging the Government to consider strengthening data protection legislation.
The BTHA’s statement reads: “Whilst it is estimated that only 1-2 per cent of the UK toy industry consists of connected toys, the BTHA’s members limit the amount of personal data collected, using closed loop systems where possible. When data is collected, this is done to enhance the play experience – for example, remembering the level of the game the child has reached – and is collected lawfully and safely.”
Going one step further, the BTHA is also working with Media Smart – a media literacy programme for 7-16-year olds that provides free educational materials for schools, youth organisations, parents and guardians – on a free educational resource regarding data protection and privacy for 9-11-year which will launch next Easter. It is expected that this resource will address the much larger factors involved in the creation of a child’s digital footprint, such as the increasing use of social media and internet-connected in-home smart devices.
The statement adds: “Furthermore, the BTHA released a connected toy guide to all its members in 2017 on best practices and engages with the ICO and the government’s cybersecurity team on data and security measures.”