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The “Internet of Things” and Child Safety

As more products become connectable to the Internet, the universe of the so-called “Internet of things” continues to grow almost exponentially. The “Internet of things” refers to products and devices of all kinds that are connected to the Internet. Although computing devices like tablets and laptops are technically included as components of the Internet of things (or IoT), the term really refers to those goods that do not have Internet connectivity as a principal function of their overriding purpose, but which nevertheless have both the hardware and software installed that enables them to be connected for collateral purposes. For example, “smart” appliances are an example of the Internet of things; a “smart” dishwasher might allow you to start, stop, and otherwise control the appliance from your smartphone while you are out and about running errands. While such web-connected products have the potential to improve our lives in a multitude of ways, their Internet accessibility means that there exists the potential for these devices to be hacked, and for our safety and privacy to be compromised.

As practically everything produced now is a part of the IoT, security and privacy experts are growing acutely concerned over the heightened risks to children posed by toys and other kid-oriented products that are now manufactured with Internet connectivity features. I have written previously about how baby monitors have been hacked, hacks on toy software have led to photos of children being stolen. There is now a Barbie doll available that is Wi-Fi enabled, which confirms that even some of the most innocuous (supposedly) children’s toys now offer nefarious actors the opportunity to do harm, one way or another, to children.

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Although legislation is in the midst of trying to keep up with all of this, many experts believe that it is unrealistic to expect new or updated statutes to be able to effectively thwart the innumerable threats that now exist. The Federal Trade Commission has publicly declared its concern over the risks to the public, including children, because of the IoT, but the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which falls under the jurisdiction of the FTC, has been assailed as both unconstitutional and ineffective.

So as the Internet of things is increasingly populated by just about anything now manufactured, it is the case that this includes goods principally used by children, which is something many may not have previously considered. While a great answer (one I happen, to like, frankly) to staying safe from the threats posed by “smart” everything is to simply not buy any of it, the reality is that all of us, even kids, are still nowadays going to have to be online in a variety of other ways. To help you stay safe in this often-frightening new world, a resource you may find helpful is an ebook called The Patriot Privacy Kit, which we have recommended in this space previously. It provides a wealth of useful information on how to stay safe online, including how to secure your computer hardware and software platforms, how to be a good steward of your all-important passwords, how to use email more securely…even how to surf the web anonymously.

This ebook also looks at what you need to know to be safe as a regular user of social media, including the ubiquitous Facebook, and also includes great information on how to secure your sensitive information offline (even in this “Internet age,” most ID theft still takes place that way, from the compromise of documents in a physical form). Something else - The Patriot Privacy Kit comes with a fantastic money-back guarantee, which means you can read and use the information through and through…and if you’re still not satisfied, you can get all of your money back, with no fuss. If you want to learn more about The Patriot Privacy Kit, Click Here.

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large