Yesterday, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center released a PSA highlighting the dangers presented from the collection of our personal information and our children's personal information. Make no mistake, such unfettered collection is a public safety concern of the highest order, raising both privacy and physical safety issues. We must continue to push corporations to be transparent in their data collection and sharing practices in order to protect ourselves and our families. According to the FBI:
"In some cases, toys with microphones could record and collect conversations within earshot of the device. Information such as the child’s name, school, likes and dislikes, and activities may be disclosed through normal conversation with the toy or in the surrounding environment. The collection of a child’s personal information combined with a toy’s ability to connect to the Internet or other devices raises concerns for privacy and physical safety. Personal information (e.g., name, date of birth, pictures, address) is typically provided when creating user accounts. In addition, companies collect large amounts of additional data, such as voice messages, conversation recordings, past and real-time physical locations, Internet use history, and Internet addresses/IPs. The exposure of such information could create opportunities for child identity fraud. Additionally, the potential misuse of sensitive data such as GPS location information, visual identifiers from pictures or videos, and known interests to garner trust from a child could present exploitation risks."
This warning is yet another reason why Illinois House Bill 3449 - the Geolocation Privacy Protection Act - is vital to protecting the children of Illinois by empowering parents with knowledge of what mobile apps are tracking their children and why those apps need such sensitive information.