Writer and artist James Bridle writes in Medium:

"Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatize, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level.

To begin: Kid's YouTube is definitely and markedly weird. I've been aware of its weirdness for some time. Last year, there were a number of articles posted about the Surprise Egg craze. Surprise Eggs videos depict, often at excruciating length, the process of unwrapping Kinder and other egg toys. That's it, but kids are captivated by them. There are thousands and thousands of these videos and thousands and thousands, if not millions, of children watching them. [...] What I find somewhat disturbing about the proliferation of even (relatively) normal kids videos is the impossibility of determining the degree of automation which is at work here; how to parse out the gap between human and machine."

Sapna Maheshwari also explores in The New York Times:

"Parents and children have flocked to Google-owned YouTube Kids since it was introduced in early 2015. The app's more than 11 million weekly viewers are drawn in by its seemingly infinite supply of clips, including those from popular shows by Disney and Nickelodeon, and the knowledge that the app is supposed to contain only child-friendly content that has been automatically filtered from the main YouTube site. But the app contains dark corners, too, as videos that are disturbing for children slip past its filters, either by mistake or because bad actors have found ways to fool the YouTube Kids algorithms. In recent months, parents like Ms. Burns have complained that their children have been shown videos with well-known characters in violent or lewd situations and other clips with disturbing imagery, sometimes set to nursery rhymes."

Very horrible and creepy.

Source: https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-...

"A German government watchdog has ordered parents to “destroy” an internet-connected doll for fear it could be used as a surveillance device. According to a report from BBC News, the German Federal Network Agency said the doll (which contains a microphone and speaker) was equivalent to a “concealed transmitting device” and therefore prohibited under German telecom law.

The doll in question is “My Friend Cayla,” a toy which has already been the target of consumer complaints in the EU and US. In December last year, privacy advocates said the toy recorded kids’ conversations without proper consent, violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Cayla uses a microphone to listen to questions, sending this audio over Wi-Fi to a third-party company (Nuance) that converts it to text. This is then used to search the internet, allowing the doll to answer basic questions, like “What’s a baby kangaroo called?” as well as play games. In addition to privacy concerns over data collection, security researchers found that Cayla can be easily hacked. The doll’s insecure Bluetooth connection can be compromised, letting a third party record audio via the toy, or even speak to children using its voice.

Although the FTC has not yet taken any action against Cayla or its makers Manufacturer Genesis Toys, German data and privacy laws are more stringent than those in America. The legacy of the Stasi, the secret police force that set up one of the most invasive mass-surveillance regimes ever in Communist East Germany, has made the country’s legislators vigilant against such infringements."

Source: http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/17/14647280...
Posted
AuthorJordan Brown

Emphasis added:

"Some people consider dolls creepy enough, but what if that deceptively cute toy was listening to everything you said and, worse yet, letting creeps speak through it?

According to The Center for Digital Democracy, a pair of smart toys designed to engage with children in new and entertaining ways are rife with security and privacy holes. The watchdog group was so concerned, they filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on Dec. 6 (you can read the full complaint here). A similar one was also filed in Europe by the Norwegian Consumer Council.

“This complaint concerns toys that spy,” reads the complaint, which claims the Genesis Toys’ My Friend Cayla and i-QUE Intelligent Robot can record and collect private conversations and offer no limitations on the collection and use of personal information.

Both toys use voice recognition, internet connectivity and Bluetooth to engage with children in conversational manner and answer questions. The CDD claims they do all of this in wildly insecure and invasive ways.

Both My Friend Cayla and i-QUE use Nuance Communications' voice-recognition platform to listen and respond to queries. On the Genesis Toy site, the manufacturer notes that while “most of Cayla’s conversational features can be accessed offline,” searching for information may require an internet connection.

The promotional video for Cayla encourages children to “ask Cayla almost anything.”

The dolls work in concert with mobile apps. Some questions can be asked directly, but the toys maintain a constant Bluetooth connection to the dolls so they can also react to actions in the app and even appear to identify objects the child taps on on screen.

The CDD takes particular issue with that app and lists all the questions it asks children (or their parents) up front during registration: everything from the child and her parent’s names to their school, and where they live.

Source: http://mashable.com/2016/12/08/hacking-toy...

Of course, always in the name of "safety."

Conrey said the district simply wanted to keep its students safe. “It was really just about student safety; if we could try to head off any potential dangerous situations, we thought it might be worth it,” he said.
An online surveillance tool that enabled hundreds of U.S. law enforcement agencies to track and collect information on social media users was also marketed for use in American public schools, the Daily Dot has learned.

Geofeedia sold surveillance software typically bought by police to a high school in a northern Chicago suburb, less than 50 miles from where the company was founded in 2011. An Illinois school official confirmed the purchase of the software by phone on Monday.

Ultimately, the school found little use for the platform, which was operated by police liaison stationed on school grounds, and chose not to renew its subscription after the first year, citing cost and a lack of actionable information. “A lot of kids that were posting stuff that we most wanted, they weren’t doing the geo-tagging or making it public,” Conrey said. “We weren’t really seeing a lot there.”
Source: http://www.dailydot.com/layer8/geofeedia-s...

"I've found my kids pushing the virtual assistant further than they would push a human," says Avi Greengart, a tech analyst and father of five who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey. "[Alexa] never says 'That was rude' or 'I'm tired of you asking me the same question over and over again.'" Perhaps she should, he thinks. "One of the responsibilities of parents is to teach your kids social graces," says Greengart, "and this is a box you speak to as if it were a person who does not require social graces."

[...]

Alexa, tell me a knock-knock joke.

Alexa, how do you spell forest?

Alexa, what’s 17 times 42?

The syntax is generally simple and straightforward, but it doesn’t exactly reward niceties like “please.” Adding to this, extraneous words can often trip up the speaker’s artificial intelligence. When it comes to chatting with Alexa, it pays to be direct—curt even. “If it’s not natural language, one of the first things you cut away is the little courtesies,” says Dennis Mortensen, who founded a calendar-scheduling startup called x.ai.

For parents trying to drill good manners into their children, listening to their kids boss Alexa around can be disconcerting.

“One of the responsibilities of parents is to teach your kids social graces,” says Greengart, “and this is a box you speak to as if it were a person who does not require social graces.”

It’s this combination that worries Hunter Walk, a tech investor in San Francisco. In a blog post, he described the Amazon Echo as “magical” while expressing fears it’s “turning our daughter into a raging asshole.”

 

Source: http://qz.com/701521/parents-are-worried-t...

Smartphones, tablets and e-readers should have an automatic "bedtime mode" that stops them disrupting people's sleep, says a leading doctor.

Prof Paul Gringras argued the setting should filter out the blue light that delays the body clock and keeps people awake later into the evening.

The doctor, from Evelina Children's Hospital in London, said every new model was "bluer and brighter".

He said manufacturers needed to show more "responsibility".

As it gets darker in the evening, the body starts to produce the sleep hormone melatonin - which helps people nod off.

Certain wavelengths of light, those at the blue-green end of the spectrum, can disrupt the system.

Prof Gringras was part of a study, published in Frontiers in Public Health, analysing the light emitted by devices.

It concluded there was a clear trend for new devices to be bigger, brighter, have higher levels of contrast and emit more blue light.

The professor of children's sleep medicine told the BBC News website: "That is great for use in the day, but awful for use at night.

"There is converging data to say if you are in front of one of these devices at night-time it could prevent you falling asleep by an extra hour."

More here

"....There are too many filthy child predators I believe micro chipping your child would be an excellent idea as when and if god forbid, a child goes missing it would be easy to locate them. There are no guarantees of course, but have a gps tracker inserted into children would mean that parents have have a better chance of getting their child back, and children might not be raped and tortured by these sick monsters." - http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-parents-be-allowed-to-microchip-their-children

Posted
Authoralexanderhayes

Image: Katina Michael 2015

So here we are in 2015, where one of the most respected and lead media agencies of Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Commission is encouraging children to switch their webcams on and record themselves to be alongside the characters "....not essential to the game but it allows you to enjoy an extra special experience."

Seriously?

If it wasn't that the fact that it is ABC app developers distributing the message I'm sure we would have the Australian Federal Police shutting it down and sending out a international trigger alert.

So lets take a step back and revisit the case where Matel thought it would be a great idea to build an SD camera into the womb or chest of a Barbie doll, USB plug in it's butt and encourage kids to upload their lap play!

The BBC brought this to the attention of the world in 2010 - http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-11930727

The post on this harks back a bit but it's well worth revisiting what Associate Professor Katina Michael had to say at the time on the matter - https://goo.gl/uYQP8W

Both cases bring some serious considerations to the forefront for debate and these could be framed within the socio-ethical context.

Did the developers at the time of bringing these inventions to the marketplace, for even a minute, consider building in socio-ethical reasoning, using an adaptive framework that is cross-cultural, contextual to thwart the release of these technologies that are obviously in breach or likely to be in breach of national or international laws?

For that matter, does it cross the minds of engineers in their race to realise the dreams of the science fiction writers dystopia, that there are childrens well being at stake here? 

Unlikely.

So lets look at another case where this "load-your-yourself-for-further-fun' is occurring in other areas of the gaming world.

Namco Bandai Games Inc. has a similar such strategy employed on their sit-down car racing games that pepper many nations and entertainment venues.

The premise is that when you swipe your credit card to start the game it prompts you to use the accelerator pedal to "capture" a photo of your self seated, up close and portrait in style that is then loaded into the game interface as a player visual place holder. Each player is then able to "see" the others they are competing with on that bank of 5 gaming machines....but wait, there is more.

On the virtual car track there might be 20 or thirty cars racing around the track and each and every one of those cars also has images hovering above each car containing the facial features of children (players) who may have long left the game and in fact even left the premises. As you will see in image one (1) above I have depicted in true sousveillance style the general scale and composition as to what is captured of the player.

In the other photos you will identify children peering up into the camera which proceeds to take up to ten images at a time and then present them back to the player to select from.

In essence, the gaming machine is a networked device (internet enabled) that for all intents and purposes does nothing more than take a series of photos of the player and then they use that for the entertainment of the others seeing themselves and in competition racing against each other - literally.

It begs the question of the provider, summed up here as a series of questions unanswered:

  • Where was the privacy declaration that childrens images were NOT being stored for the re-marketing of the game to players in new and prospective proximal, walk by marketing?
  • Are images captured of innocent people who are captured amongst these high definition depictions of players seated used also and elsewhere?
  • Are these games networked and the images being transmitted across the internet to other gaming machines and therefore peoples identity being used to market this and potentially many other products based on age, geolocation, facial identity and any number of other body sensing capabilities built into these machines?
  • When the game is "over" can we then be assured as a consumer that our facial identity will not re-appear and be used for further marketing of the game?

In conclusion, we live in a society that has become accustomed to the unanswerable, where our basic rights as a human to feel our way forward using our instinct has been denied. Our proximity to everyday locations such as shopping centres have become a multiplicity of feeds, or re-picturing, of an imbued distrust of whereabouts never mind whom we are.

We have accepted that even a simple children's game is now potentially an identify harvesting activity and for the convenience we are promised upgrades and further levels of convenience.

The Australian Broadcast Commission has clearly a lot to answer to, but again, to what degree are such breaches of a socio-ethical consideration amongst those who would argue that it is a matter of socio-technical convenience, entertainment and choice that governs what is on-sold despite all the claims that "your data is safe with us".

Clearly, we are descending deeper into the night garden with it's myriad of murky monikers that evade ethical design and thwart useful privacy assured user interfaces.