DEBATE: With cyber security concerns over smart toys, should retailers be held responsible for vulnerable products?

Connected toys sold online still pose serious privacy risks (Source: Getty)

With cyber security concerns over smart toys, should retailers be held responsible for vulnerable products?

Keiron Shepherd, senior security systems engineer (UK & I) at F5 Networks, says YES.

With each new cyber attack on internet of things (IoT) devices, it’s clear that manufacturers need to work harder at building security into their products, but retailers cannot be let off the hook. As strict laws exist in the UK to safeguard children’s privacy, it’s extremely concerning that connected toys sold online still pose serious privacy risks.

Following warnings about cyber security threats, retailers have a responsibility to protect their customers, and the recent decision by Amazon and Ebay to withdraw smart toys from sale is a step in the right direction. The US has introduced an IoT Cyber Security Improvement Act, meaning all IoT devices must meet a certain standard of security before being acquired by the US government.

I hope that the move to ban goods which pose a security threat is the first step by UK retailers to enforce a minimum security standard for manufacturers. Only then can we ensure that gifts bought online are safe and compliant.

‚ÄčRead more: Intelligence agency confirms it's investigating Dixons Carphone data breach

Rachel Lane, digital solutions principal at Medallia, says NO.

It’s the suppliers who are responsible for products they create. The priority for a retailer has to be delivering a seamless customer experience.

In this instance, both Amazon and Ebay are the trading platforms, and in the occasion that they are not the retailer, they are responsible for being the conduit between the retailer and the customer. Consumers can and should do their own research prior to purchase, and if things do not go to plan, the platform provider can take remedial action to ensure that the customer is dealt with fairly.

Ultimately, customer experience is the biggest influencer in consumer decision-making. We polled more than 2,000 UK consumers, and 64 per cent have avoided a brand because of a bad customer experience. It’s important to remember that seamless returns are vital. Customers who have a great returns experience spend more, and indeed return fewer items in the future.

Retailers should focus on that, rather than taking responsibility for their suppliers’ products.

Read more: Cyber warriors: The frontline defence business has against digital crime

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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