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Children privacy protection engine for smart anthropomorphic toys

Abstract

Children's toys have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, with a growing shift from simple physical products to toys that engage the digital world by the use of software and hardware. In this research, a smart anthropomorphic toy is defined as a device consisting of a physical toy component in a humanoid form that connects to a computing system with online services through networking and sensory technologies to enhance the functionality of a traditional toy such as Mattel's Hello Barbie and Cognitoys Dino. This new paradigm introduces a Service Oriented Architecture approach in toy computing between the toys (service providers) and children (service requestors). Referring to the direction of the United States Federal Trade Commission Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and the European Union Data Protection Directive, this research adopts the definition of a child as an individual under the age of 13 years old. Another concern with child users is that the usage patterns of children differ from that of an adult. In this research, the assumption is that children often have little understanding or regard for the privacy of their information, and are more likely to act in spontaneous ways. The usage behavior of children indicates that they are more open to giving out private information, which makes issues of sensitive data sharing of great concern. Many studies found that anthropomorphic toys serve a purpose, as children trusted such designs and felt at ease disclosing private information. Online privacy for children has been a great concern in this environment, particularly when the child's private information is involved and can be potentially shared with other parties. For example, a new invention called "Google Toy" has caused many criticisms from the media as people express concern about possible privacy breaching by Google, especially to their children at home. Privacy can result in physical safety of child user, e.g., child predators. All of these risks are increased with the possibility of child predators becoming aware of the child's location or historical location patterns. While parents strive to ensure their child's physical and online safety and privacy, there is no standardized child protection engine for parental control in this paradigm. Parental control is a feature in a smart toy for the parents to restrict the content the children can provide to the toy. The main objective of this research is on developing a privacy-aware context data model for smart toys to support a standardized child protection framework with parental controls. The framework includes an alert mechanism by applying text mining techniques to identify suspicious dialogues between children and the toys. The potential impact of this research is to provide a safe smart toy computing delivery model to protect children. (AU)

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