Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

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Fuzzy talking toys are no longer the annoying, yet benign Christmas gifts they used to be. Many of today’s toys, like refrigerators, cars, and televisions, are “smart,” and may come gift-wrapped with all of the emerging cybersecurity risks the internet has to offer. And as various government agencies grapple with the regulation and enforcement of smart products, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) may be narrowing in on smart toy manufacturers as a potential target. The FBI and FTC issued separate alerts last week highlighting potential threats posed by cuddly friends that collect children’s voices and other identifying information and putting manufacturers on notice of potential enforcement actions for failure to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”), respectively.


Continue Reading FTC Focusing on Privacy Risks of Interconnected Toys

First, it was the “Internet of Things” and now it is the “Internet of Dolls.” Mattel, maker of the iconic Barbie doll, has announced plans to introduce “Hello Barbie,” a doll with a Siri-like ability to communicate. The new Barbie, which connects to the cloud through WiFi, can have conversations, tell jokes, and play games with the children who own them.

Hello Barbie also has the ability to listen and learn girl’s preferences and adapt to them accordingly.  During a recent demonstration when a Hello Barbie prototype was asked “What should I be when I grow up?” she responded “Well, you told me you like being on stage. How about a dancer? Or a politician? Or a dancing politician?”

This Barbie doll is likely just the first in what will surely be a long line of dolls and toys that have incredible technological capabilities—whether it is a Siri-like ability to communicate, video recording technology, or the chance to communicate to friends.

But, as these new frontiers of play develop, manufacturers and marketers need to work to ensure that we can strike a balance between innovative play and children’s safety and privacy. And the lines aren’t always clear.


Continue Reading When Your Toys Talk Back: Children’s Privacy and Safety in an Age of Wired Toys