Spy Kids: Children’s toys could become snooping devices, MPs told

© Lucy Nicholson
High-tech kids’ toys could be compromised by British intelligence agents and used to spy on suspects, a technology expert has told politicians.

Antony Walker, deputy CEO of technology trade association techUK, told the House of Commons science and technology committee that any device connected to the internet could be hacked by spies and used to listen in.

In theory, the manufacturer of those products could be the subject of a warrant to enable equipment interference with those devices,” Walker said.

So the potential extent, I think, is something that needs to be carefully considered.

Given the advance of smart technology, he claimed otherwise innocuous toys could become tools for those who wish to spy.

A range of devices that have been in the news recently, in relation to a hack, are children’s toys that children can interact with.

These are devices that may sit in a child’s bedroom but are accessible,” he added.

It is also thought that the government’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill, known by its detractors as the snoopers’ charter, could allow such methods to be used to observe suspects of crime or terrorism.

It is not only in Britain that fears of espionage operations affecting children have been raised recently.

Last Wednesday, the US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which protects citizens’ technology rights, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging tech giant Google had violated the privacy of students as young as seven years old by mining their data.

The complaint alleges such monitoring violates a Student Privacy Pledge that Google signed in 2014, which the EFF said is legally enforceable under the Federal Trade Commission Act.