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Be aware of the risks of smart toys before you buy this holiday season: consumer group
FILE- In this Jan. 10, 2018, file photo, Anki Cozmo coding robot is on display at CES International in Las Vegas. Cozmo, which debuted in 2016, now comes with an app called Code Lab that allows kids to drag and drop blocks of code that control its movements and animations. They can even access facial and object recognition functions enabled by Cozmo's front-facing camera. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Smart toys connected to the Internet can be fascinating, but they are not without risks, warns Option consommateurs as the holiday season approaches.
The consumer protection group released a research report into these toys on Tuesday.
The group is referring to toys including interactive stuffed animals and robotic dogs and vehicles – some that answer questions, make custom movements and invite kids to speak with them. Some of these toys come equipped with microphones, cameras and other sensors.
ChiP the robot dog, for example, is ‘trainable,’ offering kids the opportunity to track its mood and health and reward it with a treat. Cozmo, the robot truck, recognizes faces. The Furby stuffed toy never stops shaking, cooing and chatting.
As they perform all of these functions, they collect a lot of data – the sound of a child’s voice, the words it uses and sometimes, they capture images. Some toys even do geolocation, meaning they can track their whereabouts. This is where the problem lies, says Option consommateurs.
The group said it believes that the privacy of children who use these toys is poorly protected.
“Before purchasing a connected device, learn about the company’s practices and mechanisms for protecting your personal information. You need to feel reassured by the information you receive,” the group warned.
- With files from CTV Montreal