Child Identity Theft: Online Advertisers Are Harvesting Children’s Online Information

Most of our personal information is stored electronically that enabling cybercrime to prosper. Identity thefts are becoming common, and children are no exception. The number of cyber-thefts among children is limited, but with the advent of more personalized and make-believe games, the ratio of child identity theft is on the rise.

According to the identity fraud Report 2016, 1 in every 40 thousand households with under 18 children has the propensity of one child whose personal information is compromised by identity breaches. It’s the right time to spy your little ones; your child could be a victim.

child identity theft

Do You Know

As per the federal lawsuit filed in California back in August 2018, The Walt Disney Co. secretly collects personal information from some of its youngest customers and shares the data illegally without parental consent.

The suit revealed that four software other than Disney named Upsight, Unity, and Kochava, are violating the law COPPA, by collecting users’ insights including those under the age of 13, just to facilitate their commercial exploitation.

Disney apps like “Disney Princess Palace Pets” embed trackers within, that exfiltrate the information from the device upon installation. This is not the first time Disney caught violating COPPA, the affected apps list reached 40+ and it’s still on the rise. Some of the well-known apps are

●    Where’s My Water? (100 to 500 million installs)

●    Temple Run: Oz ( more than 1 billion times)

●    Beauty and the Beast (1 to 5 million installs)

●    Disney Princess: Story Theater

●     Moana Island Life (1 to 5 million installs)

Cyber-Trends – The Real Culprit

Back in the days of the dial-up modem, online and offline presence were distinguishable, WiFi proliferation, web application, and IoT have blurred the difference; we are unable to classify our presence whether we are online or offline in the digital realm. Let’s have these cyber trends in the limelight, and how these emerging trends are exploiting and exposing our future information.

The proliferation of the internet means the internet is equally important for smartphones or tablets as their power battery, without smart internet devices, is not smart. Children are connected 24/7 as they find internet connectivity everywhere be it in schools, hotels, restaurants, libraries, and waiting rooms. More the connectivity, the more the vulnerability of the data stored in the child’s favorite device

Today apps are not just apps but are the primary gateway to the world wide web. To commercialize many app developers incorporate ads into their software, the type of commercial is not age or ethnicity restricted but depends on the revenue a developer is receiving from the advertiser. Now children are growing early and try to play every other game, whether they are safe for them or not.

If you want to be smart for the real world, you don’t need smart intelligence, you just need smart devices, and the smartest technology that the world is and will be witnessing is IoT.

Be it toys, watches, baby monitors, cars, etc.; everything would be connected virtually with different IPs, although life would be amazing who will take guarantee our personal information?

Today we are not connected that way and witnessing millions of data-breaching disasters, what would happen if everything in the world would be connected digitally?

Why Children’s Data – The Commercial Incentive

Imagine your child has a bad credit report before she is capable enough to read the report, or he goes to the DMV for applying for his first driver’s license and hands over a bill of hundreds of dollars as unpaid tickets; doesn’t this sounds strange? Thanks to the digital world and its unstoppable power that doesn’t spare the future generation.

Many companies especially those that have a technology-based background like bus operators or cereal manufacturers use WiFi to encourage children’s engagement; by offering opportunities that contain children’s usage in walled-garden to capture marketing data and enhance their marketing competencies. This way app developers sell their apps and at the same time capture children’s data to exploit the children in the future.

The other commodifiable ground, such companies are using to showcase their criminative skills, is the smart label. Now you see interactive, yet seemingly-smart toys, but fall back regarding security; such manufacturers are unwilling to pay for an additional cost of security. Some of the well-known toys transmit data in clear text and seriously parents are unaware of such details.

Data becomes an exploitable natural resource like oil, for the data-mining advertisers and cybercriminals; many children’s devices are continually emitting data thus becoming valuable data mined for commercialization.

Networking among specialist companies, partners, and affiliates coupled with the involvement of commercial actors like Schools, makes the process difficult to control and makes it easier for brokers and oil resellers to capture and process the data.

There’s no way other than encryption to make your digital footprints and the job can’t be better done by any tool that protects your online identity.

The concept of a data field child is normalizing with the passage of time, which turned the data more opaque, orphaned, and highly vulnerable to further commodification.

Sharing the data across encrypted channels or storing it on weak security, makes the data easy to hack. Increasing such cyber misconducts started triggering authorities to focus on the particular ethics of the capture and management of children’s online data.

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