Germany has banned the internet-connected doll called “My Friend Cayla” after calling it a “spying device.”
“My Friend Cayla” is a toy that connects to the internet and can chat with children. But, regulators in Germany are calling for parents to disable the toy after the Federal Network Agency called it a surveillance device.
Germany bans My Friend Cayla
“Items that conceal cameras or microphones and that are capable of transmitting a signal, and therefore can transmit data without detection, compromise people’s privacy,” said the FNA agency director, Jochen Homann.
“This applies in particular to children’s toys. The Cayla doll has been banned in Germany. This is also to protect the most vulnerable in our society,” Homann added.
The doll works by sending a child’s question to an app, which translates the words into text and searches the internet for an answer, then the doll responds with a reply to the question.
The FNA regulators issued a statement warning that anything someone says around the doll is recorded and transmitted without their knowledge. Also, German regulators argued that baby can advertise to children.
“A company could also use the toy to advertise directly to the child or the parents,” it said.
“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.”
My Friend Cayla Controversy
Genesis Toys manufactures My Friend Cayla and reportedly uses a voice-recognition software called Nuance, a program that is actively used by military and intelligence agencies.
‘M is not the first time the doll was in hot water for spying on children. Last December, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) partnered with the Commercial-Free Childhood, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Consumers Union to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over the toy’s ability to listen in on conversations.
“Both Genesis Toys and Nuance Communications unfairly and deceptively collect, use, and disclose audio files of children’s voices without providing adequate notice or obtaining verified parental consent,” Epic complaint says.