Privacy campaigners have revealed several children’s AI gadgets and toys that collect data by secretly listening to their conversations and anyone close by.
One of the gadgets, Angel Watch, which has been touted as a “child-safe wearable mobile phone,” has now come under fire for its potential privacy infringements. The Mozilla Foundation labeled it the “creepiest.”
Privacy breach for children
The Mozilla Foundation’s annual “Privacy Not Included” study cites smart toys and apps for kids as the “worst in class” for user data collection. Angel Watch is worrisome as it can track whereabouts and covertly listen to conversations from anyone within “earshot.”
According to the Daily Mail, a Mozilla report also flagged the AI robot Moxie, designed to help children with their social skills using a built-in chatbot. Moxie costs £1,200, and it can record audio and video from people around and share it with OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT, as well as Google.
The unsettling robot only works when data gathering is enabled, and outside businesses might utilize the information gathered to train more AI models.
Tech giants found wanting
The report also draws attention to recent fines levied against tech giants Microsoft and Amazon in the US for allegedly violating children’s online privacy laws. For instance, Amazon was slapped with a $25 million fine for violating children’s privacy with its Alexa.
The ‘Privacy Not Included’ report emphasizes the growing use of AI in children’s smart toys and apps, raising alarms about potential privacy breaches.
The lack of information concerning data exchange, deletion, and protection has raised major concerns among researchers.
Lead researcher Jen Caltrider remarked on the overall decline in privacy and security standards among popular apps and gadgets, especially those targeted at children.
“The privacy and security of our favorite apps and gadgets have gotten worse across the board, but especially among children’s products,” she said.
In early October, the UK’s data watchdog Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) accused Snapchat of a “worrying failure” to assess the privacy risk its chatbot, My AI, posed to users, especially children. The ICO warned it could shut down the My AI feature in the UK after “preliminary investigations.”
Italy has already banned ChatGPT over privacy concerns following data breaches and concerns over children’s safety.
As these privacy concerns continue to emerge, consumers are urged to exercise caution and thoroughly research the privacy policies of smart devices targeted at children.