TickTalk 4

Warning: *privacy not included with this product

TickTalk 4

TickTalk Tech LLC
Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 9, 2022

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Somewhat creepy

The days of being a kid free to roam and do dumb things you spend your life grateful your parents never found out about are long gone. This smart watch/tracking device/wrist communication gadget is a helicopter parent's must have accessory (OK, to be fair, I can see why parents would love this thing, it's just...kinda creepy too). Made for kids 5 -12 years old, the TickTalk watch gives parents a GPS tracking, two-way HD video and voice calling, activity tracking, photo taking, music streaming, emergency SOS calling device with a host of parental controls. Get the app, set up the watch, strap it on your kid, and they'll never know a moment of privacy ever again. And your worry as a parent will also probably go down. This smart tracking watch for kids really does highlight the issue of privacy versus safety and how those two conflict. So, hows does the TickTalk watch do when it comes to protecting you and your kids' privacy? Well, it looks like it probably does a pretty good job keeping your kids' personal information private. Yours as a parent? Well, probably not so much.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the privacy of this GPS location tracking, HD video and voice calling, photo taking, group chatting, activity tracking, music streaming smartwatch targeted at kids ages 5 - 12 years old. Let’s start with the bad news.

In March 2022 TickTalk got in trouble with the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the BBB National Programs watchdog organization when they were found to be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). That’s a lot of alphabet soup to say that a trusted watchdog organization found TickTalk didn’t provide a clear, complete, and not confusing privacy policy that let parents know about how they collect information on children. The watchdog group also found that TickTalk didn’t put their privacy policy in a prominent enough place for parents to find and, even worse, they didn’t “provide a means for parents to provide verifiable consent to its information collection practices prior to the collection of information from children.” All this is pretty bad for a device that can potentially collect so much information about a kid as young as five.

The good news is TickTalk agreed to correct these privacy violations and provided CARU a plan to do so. Which means now when you go to the TickTalk website, it’s pretty easy to find their privacy policy and that privacy policy lays out pretty clearly now things like what data is collected, when it is collected, how it is shared, and what parental consent looks like.

So, what data does the TickTalk watch and app collect? Well, there’s two stories here. There is the data collected on your child and then there is the data collected on the parent or guardian who sets up the account for the child. When it comes to the data collected on anyone under the age of 13, well, TickTalk does seem to do OK. TickTalk can collect things like a child's name or nickname, age, gender, and birthdate if you choose to share it. They can also collect location information and device information. And, they say they don’t share any of this information publicly or sell or rent it to third parties for advertising purposes. So, that’s all good.

Then there is the data TickTalk says they can collect on adults. More data is collected there. Things like name, email address, relationship to the child, location information, device information, and more. And TickTalks says they can use this information for things like personalization and promotions. Nothing worries us too much here. Although TickTalk does say they can share your aggregated or de-identified data with partners, sponsors, or the press, for example, for things like marketing and identifying industry trends. This is fairly normal, however, we should remind you that it has been found to be pretty easy to de-anonymize some of these de-identified data sets and track down an individual’s patterns, especially with location data.

So, what’s the worst that could happen with TickTalk? Well, anything that is designed to strap on a child as young as five, that tracks location, has two built-in cameras and a microphone, comes with the potential for abuse and harm. It’s good to remember that, as we know parents see these devices as helping protect their children from harm. Here’s hoping the smartwatch is never compromised in any way, and your child tracked or spied on by some bad person. That is a worst case scenario but it’s one parents should take into consideration before buying this, or any similar device.

One final consideration. We think there is a good question to be raised about teaching young children that this level of digital surveillance in their lives is OK. Maybe we should track kids a little bit less, and teach them constant surveillance isn’t a good thing?

Tips to protect yourself

  • Parents, keep a sharp eye on parent controls and permissions.
  • Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
  • Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
  • Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
  • Keep your app regularly updated
  • Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
  • Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
  • When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
mobile Privacy warning Security warning A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: Yes

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

We ding this product for potentially sharing personal information with third parties for targeted advertising, combining data for users 18+ with data obtained from outside sources, and for their confusing and, at times, contradictory privacy policy.

"We do not share any Child Personal Information publicly. Children Users cannot share any information publicly outside of the TickTalk Device or Services. The statements that we make regarding the information we collect from or about Children and how we use this information apply equally to all Children regardless of their age. Accordingly, where this Privacy Policy references Children or any information collected from or about Children our Privacy Policy applies to Children under 13 years of age as well as Children 13 years of age and above.

All pairing, activation, and communication from our TickTalk Devices occurs with our parental control TickTalk App. We will automatically collect the physical precise location from your Child's TickTalk Device at all times when activated. We collect the minimal amount of information from Children necessary to use our Service. This information is necessary to enable us to comply with legal obligations and given our legitimate interest in being able to provide and improve the Service and for security and safety purposes. Personal Information and location-based information are treated as sensitive information and are subject to a heightened standard for sharing."

"We do not sell or rent any of your or your Child's Personal Information to any third party for any purpose, including for advertising or marketing. Third-party advertising is not permitted on our Service and Personal Information collected from Children is never used for behaviorally-targeted advertising to Children."

TickTalk says for users 18+ "we will never sell or rent your Personal Information to advertisers or other third parties"
However, they also say, " We “share” certain personal information with third party ad networks for purposes of behavioral advertising, including: Commercial and Financial Information, Internet Activity, Online Identifiers, and Personal Identifiers. This allows us to show you ads that are more relevant to you."

TickTalk may combine person information of users 18+ "with data from other sources outside of your use of the TickTalk Service, such as data obtained from Wi-Fi access points within range of your Child’s TickTalk Device"

We use third party data analytics providers and this may be considered a “sale” of information under the CCPA.

"Local Child Personal Information is data stored locally on your Child's TickTalk Device and is not viewable or accessible by TickTalk Tech LLC. "

"We do not share any Child Personal Information publicly. Children Users cannot share any information publicly outside of the TickTalk Device or Services. The statements that we make regarding the information we collect from or about Children and how we use this information apply equally to all Children regardless of their age. Accordingly, where this Privacy Policy references Children or any information collected from or about Children our Privacy Policy applies to Children under 13 years of age as well as Children 13 years of age and above."

"We do not share your Child’s Personal Information with our subprocessors unless it has previously gone through end-to-end encryption, is unreadable by the subprocessor, and is necessary to provide our services"

"All Child Personal Information, except for Device information and location services, is provided by the Parent ("Admin User") upon creation of a TickTalk App account. There are two types of storage for Personal Information:
Locally on your Child's TickTalk Device which we cannot view and/or access
Non-Locally on the parental control TickTalk App which we store externally within the AWS Cloud Server and can view and/or access particular Personal Information"

"Parent-Approved App Users (“Contacts”) who have Full Access have the same access level as the Parent (“Admin User”). Full Access App Users are typically Parents, Guardians, and close family members (i.e. Grandparents) who need access to locating capabilities or the ability to edit your Child’s TickTalk Device settings. "

"TickTalk Tech LLC does not store or share any Child Personal Information in the Facebook service."

How can you control your data?

"Parent-Approved App Users (“Contacts”) have the option to delete their account at any time and/or can be removed by the Parent (“Admin User”) at any time. The Parent (“Admin User”) will be notified of any Contacts adding your Child’s TickTalk Device and prompted to set the individual access levels. The Parent (“Admin User”) can choose between Full Access or Limited Access for each App User (“Contact”)."

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Needs Improvement

In 2022, TickTalk was found to be in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the BBB National Programs. The violation was due to inadequate privacy policy and because TickTalk did not give parents a way to provide verifiable consent before their child's information was collected. According to CARU. TickTalk agreed to correct their privacy violations in a detailed plan.

"The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU – a children’s safety program of the US Better Business Bureau) reports that TickTalk Tech failed to meet COPPA requirements, as it didn’t provide clear, non-confusing notice of information it collects on children and it doesn’t notify parents of practices as required by COPPA."

Child Privacy Information

"Protecting Children’s privacy is of the utmost importance to us - which is why we have received iKeepSafe's Children's Online Privacy Protection ("COPPA") Safe Harbor seal, signifying that this Privacy Policy and our practices with respect to the operation of the Service have been reviewed and approved for compliance with iKeepSafe's COPPA Safe Harbor program. COPPA protects the online privacy of Children under the age of 13 ("Child" or "Children"); for more information about COPPA and protecting Children's online privacy, please visit OnGuard Online. We've also made a short video for Children and Parents that highlights the most important details of our Privacy Policy they should know about."

Can this product be used offline?

No

User-friendly privacy information?

No

TickTalk's privacy policy is quite confusing and, at times, contradictory.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

No

Encryption

Yes

"TickTalk Tech LLC's database where we store your Personal Information is encrypted at rest, which converts all Personal Information stored in the database to an unintelligible form." "Once a Child accesses their Parent-created Child Account, they can take and share photos (which may contain Personal Information) in the end-to-end encrypted Secure Messaging Center with Parent-Approved Contacts."

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Can’t Determine

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Can’t Determine

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Can’t Determine

*privacy not included

Dive Deeper

  • Children’s Privacy: CARU finds TickTalk Tech Smart Watch & app in violation of COPPA
    CDP Institute
  • How to Sign Into Your TickTalk App Account
    TickTalk
  • Children’s Advertising Review Unit Finds TickTalk Tech in Violation of COPPA and CARU’s Privacy Guidelines; Company Agrees to Corrective Actions
    BBB National Programs
  • Kids’ Smart Watchmaker Updates Privacy Practices at Safe Harbor’s Direction
    Lexology
  • TickTalk 4 Kids Smartwatch Makers Agree To Overhaul Child Data Collection Process Following Review
    Top Class Actions
  • The Best Smartwatches and Phones for Kids
    The New York Times
  • The Best Smartwatches For Kids (And Parents) To Stay Connected
    Forbes
  • Smartwatch Privacy for Kids During the Coronavirus Pandemic
    Common Sense

Comments

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