Toying with Privacy: Regulating the Internet of Toys

PI: Eldar Haber


Recently, toys have become more interactive than ever before. The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) makes toys smarter and more communicative: they can now interact with children by "listening" to them and respond accordingly. While there is little doubt that these toys can be highly entertaining for children and even possess social and educational benefits, the Internet of Toys (IoToys) raises many concerns. Beyond the fact that IoToys that might be hacked or simply misused by unauthorized parties, datafication of children by toy conglomerates, various interested parties and perhaps even their parents could be highly troubling. It could profoundly threaten children’s right to privacy as it subjects and normalizes them to ubiquitous surveillance and datafication of their personal information, requests, and any other information they divulge. While American policymakers acknowledged the importance of protecting children's privacy online back in 1998, when crafting COPPA, this regulatory framework might become obsolete in face of the new privacy risks that arise from IoToys. Do fundamental differences between websites and IoToys necessitate a different legal framework to protect children's privacy? Should policymakers recalibrate the current legal framework to adequately protect the privacy of children who have IoToys? Finally, what are the consequences for children's privacy of ubiquitous parental. ... Read More in the PDF FIle.