Data Privacy Week 2022

January 24, 2022

Rectangle Circle

It’s no secret that the pandemic has amplified online data privacy concerns. Last year, major global brands like Disney and Viacom came under fire after being accused of violating users’ privacy in popular kids’ apps. And Apple made a bigger privacy stand through a software update that gives iPhone users’ more control over their privacy settings. 

Why we need to be conscious of voice data privacy

Within the speech recognition industry, voice data privacy is also a major concern; although, many commentators feel that the Big Tech players leading it could do better. At SoapBox Labs, every week is Data Privacy week but many brands and IPs out there are also making their concerns about privacy in voice technology more and more of a consideration. In a recent webinar, special guest James Poulter, of Vixen Labs, talked about how his B2B and B2C clients see “privacy [as] one of the biggest concerns for people using voice technology.” 

If there’s a privacy concern when it comes to adults using voice technology, that concern is multiplied by a factor of a thousand when it comes to kids. In a recent SoapBox privacy podcast, child-data-privacy expert and advocate Dr. Veronica Barassi explains why: “When we’re talking about children’s data privacy, we’re not only talking about their right not to be tracked. We’re talking about their right to grow up and not to be judged on the basis of the data collected on them since their childhood.”

As Joe Fedewa says in his article on smart speakers and privacy, people need to understand that using voice through smart speakers for example, is “simply another entry point to the vastness of the internet.” We have to be mindful of what we let our kids access, play, and digitally control when using their voices.

Dr. Barassi takes this word of caution an important step further when she explains that the data we share on consumer platforms, be it voice data or otherwise, can be used to create profiles of us as individual consumers, and these profiles can follow us throughout our lifetimes. “A voice print is like a fingerprint,” she says. “It doesn’t go away.”

How SoapBox protects kids’ privacy

From our  founding, SoapBox has been 100 percent committed to protecting kids’ voice data privacy. Here are some fast facts about privacy at SoapBox:

  • Our speech recognition technology was built using a privacy-by-design approach. No attempt is made to identify individual users of our voice engine. 
  • Our voice data will never be sold or shared with third parties and will never be used to support activities like marketing and advertising.
  • We’ve been an engaged and proactive member of the PRIVO Kids Privacy Assured Program for COPPA Safe Harbor Certification and GDPRkids since 2013. 

SoapBox holds itself to the highest standards when it comes to kids’ privacy, and we encourage others in voice technology to do the same. Here are our five calls to action for the voice industry:

  1. Deliver transparency on how kids’ voice data is used once it is stored. 
  2. Commit to treat kids’ data differently to adults’ data, even with consent.
  3. Commit to identify voice data captured without consent, for example from a playmate or visitor to the home whose parent has not given consent, and delete it.
  4. Develop kid/adult voice classifiers to protect kids from adult-centered digital environments, and to recognize when parental consent is needed before storing voice data.
  5. Develop voice solutions where processing of voice data is embedded on-device.

Keep it private 

The theme of Data Privacy Week 2022 is Keep it Private. We encourage other kid-focused companies to take the necessary steps to protect kids’ privacy. As CEO Dr. Martyn Farrows acknowledges, “It wasn’t faster or cheaper to design in privacy, but as a deep tech, kid-focused company, success for us meant respecting every kid’s fundamental right to privacy.”

It wasn’t faster or cheaper to design in privacy, but as a deep tech, kid-focused company, success for us meant respecting every kid’s fundamental right to privacy.

Dr. Martyn Farrows, CEO, SoapBox Labs

To learn more about our commitment to kids’ privacy, visit our Privacy page, and check out these resources:

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