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Privacy Report Card for Children's Smart Toys

Organization

Concordia University

Published

2018

Project Leader(s)

Mohammad Mannan and Amr Youssef

Summary

As part of the "Smart Toys Project", the research team analyzed 11 popular smart toys. They checked the toys' stated privacy policies and terms of use; performed static analysis on the toys' companion smartphone apps to identify potential privacy leakage points; performed dynamic and network-based analyses on the toys and companion apps (by using the toys and apps in realistic scenarios) to measure actual privacy leakage.

The team composed two academic manuscripts on their developed methodologies and analytical/experimental evaluation frameworks. The team found that most toys collect privacy-sensitive information and share with third parties for unclear purposes. Moreover, the toys' companion apps are largely over-privileged, requesting privacy-sensitive permissions that are not necessary, or not used at all. The use of unique device identifiers by companion apps can facilitate tracking children across different services or platforms.

The researchers also shared their findings with toy makers, and outlined a list of best practices that the toy makers can apply to facilitate better security and privacy protection.

Project deliverables are available in the following language(s):

English

OPC Funded Project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

Contact Information

Concordia University
1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. West
Montreal, Quebec,
H3G 1M8
Telephone number: 514-848-2424 ext. 8972 (M. Mannan); ext. 5441 (A. Youssef)
E-mails: m.mannan@concordia.ca; and amr.youssef@concordia.ca

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