The German regulators have banned the internet-connected doll called “My Friend Cayla” which can chat with children. When asked for the reason, they said it was a de facto “spying device”.
The Parents around the country were urged by the Federal Network Agency to disable the interactive toy since they enforce bans on surveillance devices.
The agency’s head, Jochen Homann said, “Items which conceal microphones or cameras and which are capable of transmitting a signal, and therefore can transmit some data without detection, compromise the people’s privacy. This applies in particular to children’s toys. The Cayla doll is now banned in Germany. This is to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”
Here is how the doll works: It sends the child’s audio question wirelessly to an app on a device, which then converts it into text and searches the internet for an answer and then sends back a response that is again voiced by the doll.
In a statement, the German regulators warned that anything a child says, or other people talk, could be recorded and transmitted without parents’ knowledge.
It said, “A company can also use the toy to advertise directly to the child or the parents.”
“Moreover, if the manufacturer has not adequately protected the wireless connection, the toy can be used by anyone in the vicinity to listen in on conversations undetected.”
Genesis Toys, which manufactures this doll, says on its website that it “they are committed to protecting your and your family’s personal information.
“Our objective is to ensure that our products and services are safe and enjoyable for our customers”.
It also says that Cayla “is programmed to not utter, display or even say words or images that would be inappropriate for children to hear or see”.
The company regularly reviews “encryption and physical security measures” to guard against unauthorised access to customers’ personal information.