Smart Toy Backlash

KLBK News

This holiday season it turns out that it’s not just Santa who knows “who’s been naught or nice.” That’s because a lot of high-tech gadgets that parents give as holiday presents can actually track, monitor and record their children.

It’s why the Eute family is starting a new tech-free Christmas tradition.

“I do know a lot of parents who give their kids those things, but for us, we don’t care to put our kids out there like that,” said Emily Eute.

The main reason the Eute family is going technology free is because they worry about the private data that is being collected on apps made for kids.

“I think people need to sit down and think about where this data is going. Who’s keeping track of me and my children,” said Eute.

Federal law requires a parent’s permission to track and collect data from anyone 13 and younger. But, a complaint recently filed with the Federal Trade Commission alleges that some apps in the Google play store don’t give “direct notice to parents or obtain parental permission.”

Pressure is mounting against tech and social-media giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter to reveal how information is being sold to third parties. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai defended the company’s practices to congress.

“We definitely are very careful and minimize the data we provide to service back to our user,” Pichai said during a congressional hearing.

Serge Eglman is the director for the international computer science institute and found that nearly 20,000 apps were in violation of FTC Laws.

“We were really surprised that it appears that a majority of the apps that we tested seemed to be in violation for one reason or another,” said Egelman.

Now, some of his research is being used as evidence. He also admitted that there is no simple fix.

“I honestly don’t think there is anything that parents or consumers in general can really do about this because they have no way of knowing when this is even happening, explained Egelman.

That’s exactly why Emily and her family are opting for simple and classic gifts under the tree this year.

“They’ve crossed the line that we just can search something with out that data being taken and we don’t need other people meddling in our business all the time,” said Eute.

The FTC has not opened an investigation. But, in the past they have penalized Google for exploiting children through purchases made without parental consent.

Google did acknowledge this compliant and said they’ll continue to work hard to remove any content that is inappropriately aimed at children.

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