Multinational toy manufacturer Mattel has announced the cancellation of plans to sell a child-focused smart-home hub device due to privacy concerns. The company states it will not placing the Aristotle product on the market because it “didn’t fully align with Mattel’s new technology strategy,” according to the Washington Post. The toy giant faced a significant outcry from child privacy advocates after initial announcements of Aristotle’s wide range of functions and information-gathering capabilities.
The device was designed for a child’s room and could perform actions as simple as turning on a night light in order to soothe a crying baby. But Aristotle was also designed to evolve and increase its activities over time and “would learn about the child along the way.” There were great concerns about the device’s collection, storage, and retention of personal data about the children and families who be using it.
“Objections to Aristotle were two-fold,” observed the Washington Post. “For one, the existence of a home hub for kids raised questions about data privacy for a vulnerable population. It also triggered broader concerns about how quickly companies are marketing products to parents without understanding how technology could affect early childhood development.” Pediatrician Jennifer Radesky, who wrote the American Association of Pediatrics’ 2016 media guidelines for children 0-6 years of age, noted that with this kind of technology, there are major concerns over “a piece of technology that becomes the most responsive household member to a crying child.”
“We commend Mattel for putting children’s well-being first and listening to the concerns of child development experts and thousands of parents who urged them not to release this device,” said Josh Golin, executive director for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “This is a tremendous victory for everyone who believes children still have a right to privacy and that robots can never replace loving humans as caregivers.”
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Giant media companies and digital ad networks directly profit by tracking and accumulating information about kids to generate comprehensive and detailed profiles of children without parental permission. Recent governmental investigations and lawsuits in New York and elsewhere reveal that numerous major game and app manufacturers allow third-parties to illegally access, collect, and profit from children’s personal information on some of the most popular children’s websites and mobile apps and games. Learn more about Child Privacy Data Breaches and significant ongoing violations of U.S. child privacy laws.
If you are interested in finding out more and helping us stop these practices, contact digital privacy lawyers Nicholas Diamand or Douglas Cuthbertson by using the form on this page or by calling us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358.