Current Issue
Next Issue
Call for Papers
About IRIE


MSN Search

Issue No. 027

Vol. 27 - Dec 2018
Ethical Issues of Networked Toys
edited by Juliet Lodge and Daniel Nagel

Technology is ubiquitous: boundaries between the world we live in and the internet become more and more blurred thanks to networked objects. The borders that once separated the sanctity and privacy of our home from our online lives have been dissolved through the advent of the Internet-of-Things (IoT), encompassing even those realms traditionally reserved as secure places for development: childhood and children's toys. Traditional early childhood development, once founded on the safety of interactions within a closed circle of peers and family, has now been augmented with digital realities and externally networked connections. Questions must be posed as to how the introduction of digitally networked toys affects childhood, both negatively and positively, and most certainly in ways not yet fully understood. How might 'robo-toys' affect the experience of childhood and influence early childhood development, and how will they shape new online and off-line expectations? Early research and application in this area requires a thorough ethical review - a scholarly task that we want to initiate with the following issue - where we will explore the challenges, benefits and pitfalls of networked toys.

For over a decade, the International Review of Information Ethics has led the charge in exploring new frontiers of ethics and technology, such as networked toys. Having covered topics ranging from robotics to religion, IRIE has ventured some of the most thought-provoking conversations of the digital age. These types of conversations are just getting started. The editors are proud to announce that after 15 years of publication under the leadership of IRIE Founders, Editor-in-Chief, Professor Rafael Capurro, alongside Dr. Felix Weil, whose operative management of IRIE has been key to its success, alongside Professor Thomas Hausmanninger, IRIE will re-launch in 2019, hosted by the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) at the University of Alberta, Canada. The journal will undergo a new design and will adopt a renewed commitment to its editorial advisory board.

The transfer of the journal will accompany the relaunch of the International Center for Information Ethics, also to be hosted at the University of Alberta under a new administration and website. The editors at IRIE consider it a privilege to have worked closely with Professor Rafael Capurro for the last two decades and wish him the very best for his well-deserved retirement. IRIE looks forward to several forthcoming editions, including a special edition honoring the life and work of Norbert Wiener, an edition on Information Ethics (IE) where a critical examination of the field of IE will address the origins and evolutions of the field, and an edition on Ethics in Artificial Intelligence.

Sincerely yours,

the Editors.


Full Journal
pdf-fulltext (1.043 KB)

Introductory Remarks to the Ethical Issues of Networked Toys
by Juliet Lodge and Dan Nagel
Language: English
pdf-fulltext (153 KB)

Children at Play: Thoughts about the impact of networked toys in the game of life and the role of law
by Ulrich Gaspar
Language: English
abstract:   Information communication technology is spreading fast and wide. Driven by convenience, it enables people to undertake personal tasks and make decisions more easily and efficiently. Convenience enjoys an air of liberation as well as self-expression affecting all areas of life. The industry for children's toys is a major economic market becoming ever more tech-related and drawn into the battle for convenience. Like any other tech-related industry, this battle is about industry dominance and, currently, that involves networked toys. Networked toys aim to enhance convenience for children and parents alike. Increasingly difficult to resist, these convenient networked devices are also a societal game changer. Neatly nestled in a lacuna juris and surrounded by a lack of clinical evidence, networked toys raise complex ethical issues concerning human development. This article lays bare the regulatory nexus for networked toys and invites ethical thinking to fill the gap to ensure sufficient protection for all human developmental stages. Networked toys not only affect but also might interfere with child development. Therefore, the article initially summarises the four key psychological stages through which the neurological development of the human brain processes. Each of these stages involves vital windows for human development in cognitive, emotional and social dimensions. Missing any of these developmental windows changes an individual human for life. The article then takes a look at the two main legal frameworks protecting the stages of human development which are applicable to networked toys: First, the examination of the human rights framework with its major segments emanating from the fundamental rights to privacy for family and home, to a child's education as well as to personal data reveals the use of current networked toys as a shielded part of parenting which tends to be at odds with privacy and data protection requirements. Second, the product liability framework for toy manufacturers requires evidence-based causality for putting a child's safety at risk. Unfortunately, these legal frameworks fail to offer sufficient protection of the human developmental stages. There is a lacuna juris. Although networked toys involve the risk of negatively impacting human development in every dimension, clinical psychological studies are impossible to acquire as court evidence for product liability because they take too long to provide reliable data while exposing several generations of children to the examined risk in the process. Meanwhile the temptation of convenience continues to drive the industry and consumers of networked toys and devices, which are already impacting children of all age groups. Accepting this phenomenon as an element of cognitive dissonance in society and in science falls far short of an appropriate ethical balance. The need for creating such an ethical balance concerning networked toys is all the more imperative because even if the networked toy industry managed to eliminate all psychological risks for human development and every legal conflict with privacy and security, significant ethical and societal risks of networked toys remain due to inevitable technological bias. Against these mounting changes, it is suggested that only an ethical approach of interdisciplinary research and learning seems most promising to develop an appropriate equilibrium between the complex challenges posed by networked toys and the societal values at stake.
pdf-fulltext (813 KB)

Data protection for networked and robotic toys - a legal perspective
by Rocco Panetta and Federico Sartore
Language: English
abstract:   This paper is aimed to understand the state of the art and the resulting consequences of the legal framework in Europe, with regard to the protection of children's data. Especially when they interact with networked and robotic toys, like in 'My friend Cayla' case. In order to evaluate the practical implications of the use of IoT devices by children or teenager users, the first part of the paper presents an analysis of the international guiding principles of the protection of minors, a category which enjoys a higher level of protection of their fundamental rights, due to their condition of lack of physical and psychological maturity. Secondly, the focus is moved upon the protection of personal data of children. Only after confronting previous data protection legal instruments and having compared them with the novelties set forth in General Data Protection Regulation, it is reasonable to assume that new provisions such as "privacy by design" principle, adequacy of security measures and codes of conduct, can support data controllers in ensuring compliance (in line with the accountability principle) in the field of IoT toys. In conclusion, the paper supports a view of Data Protection Authorities as a relevant player in enhancing these renovated tools in order to achieve the protection of children's rights, as to ensure their substantial protection against the threats of the interconnected world.
pdf-fulltext (498 KB)

Interview with Isabelle Moeller: Ubiquitous and Positive Biometrics
by Juliet Lodge and Dan Nagel
Language: English
abstract:    In this interview with Isabelle Moeller questions surrounding the responsible use and development of biometric apps are explored. The use of biometrics - originally to digitally represent and authenticate an identifiable characteristic of a product or a person - have become so wide spread that they are capable of facilitating ever greater continuous surveillance of the what, how, when and where of life. The more biometrical data of a user is collected, the more the integrity of the underlying e-identity is open to fraud and being invisibly compromised. Ethical reflection is long overdue but a prerequisite of minimizing risk to the autonomy of the human person as well as to the integrity of his digital persona.
pdf-fulltext (185 KB)


 Home ] [ Current Issue ] Next Issue ] Archive ] Call for Papers ] About IRIE ]

Copyright © 2013 International Review of Information Ethics - all rights reserved
Privacy Policy, Legal Statement and Impressum
Last Update: 13/03/10