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Safer Connected Toys for Oregon and Illinois Families

Just months after Common Sense parents helped California pass a groundbreaking bill to make connected toys safer, lawmakers in Oregon and Illinois are moving to enact similar protections in their states.

American homes have welcomed an astounding number of connected devices in recent years -- everything from smart speakers and talking teddy bears to smart toasters and online baby monitors. Research firm Gartner estimates there will be 20 billion connected devices in use by next year.

Families are concerned about the security risks of letting all these connected devices into their homes, with 73% of U.S. consumers in one survey saying they were "very concerned" or "concerned" about the security of their personal data on these devices. Those worries come after a series of data leaks and privacy breaches that included everything from baby monitors being taken over by hackers to children's toys leaking the personal data they'd gathered.

California took the first step by passing Common Sense-sponsored legislation from Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin requiring manufacturers of connected devices to build in "reasonable security" requirements before sale.

Oregon's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum introduced a bill in Oregon, HB 2395, that would impose similar requirements for connected devices sold in that state. She is one of a new generation of state AGs who are taking an aggressive approach in their oversight of the tech industry in reaction to the federal government's lack of progress.

Rosenblum cited a recent FBI report finding that connected devices "could put the privacy and safety of children at risk due to the large amount of personal information that may be unwittingly disclosed."

Illinois Senator Cristina Castro is sponsoring the KIDS Act (Keep Internet Devices Safe). That bill would tighten security requirements and require notice of data-gathering for connected devices that use microphones. Senator Castro is in step with American parents: Ninety-three percent of parents who own home smart speaker devices want to know when they are being recorded, according to a new Common Sense survey.

Common Sense parents have worked to make these devices and our homes safer, and we are now starting to see real progress at the state level. This is a key step forward in our hope of making a digital world that is safe and healthy for every kid.

Elizabeth Galicia