Smart technologies are becoming more and more prevalent in everyday life. As such, it may not be a bad idea to prepare today’s children for their technology-filled tomorrow. However, as Mattel discovered with their kid-targeted smarthome hub, Aristotle, it is important to make sure that these devices are secure enough to ensure the safety of their youthful users.
Aristotle was intended to be used in a child’s room, ‘growing’--in a sense--along with the child. As the child developed, Aristotle was to adjust its capabilities, soothing babies as a night light to helping a young teen with their homework. However, the idea of a connected device watching over a child and ‘learning’ about them didn’t sit quite right with many.
This disquiet was largely caused by concerns over data security.
Senator Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Representative Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, joined forces to bring the concerns over Aristotle’s security to light by sending a letter to Mattel. In the letter, the bipartisan partnership requested more information from Mattel regarding how the data collected by Aristotle was to be stored. To Mattel’s credit, they did state that the data collected would be protected by high-level encryption and that it would not be sold to advertisers. Then again, selling this information to advertisers would be illegal based on existing privacy laws for children's protection.
Ultimately, Mattel decided against launching Aristotle, announcing that the smart hub didn’t “fully align with Mattel’s new technology strategy.”
However, Aristotle is far from the only product that is creeping into a child’s development and privacy. Only last year, Mattel was in a similar bind due to ‘Hello Barbie,’ a version of the classic doll that, operating via Wi-Fi, would record the child to learn about it. Privacy advocates were outspoken against a doll that would record and learn about a child, and after many negative reviews citing the privacy concerns, the doll experienced underwhelming sales during its launch.
There are also the very real concerns of what hackers and cybercriminals could do with access to connected devices, especially those that are intended to be around kids.
What do you think? Would you trust your young child’s privacy to a device? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you keep reading our blog.