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Full Version: Even a Child's Doll Can Now Spy On Them and Parents!
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When parents give their kids a holiday gift, they probably aren't considering whether the toy might be listening in on their conversations.
But Genesis Toys' My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Intelligent Robot allegedly have the capabilities to eavesdrop on children and their families, potentially violating laws that protect children's privacy. That's according to a new complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission from a coalition of consumer privacy advocates including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The toys allegedly send recordings to speech-to-text software company Nuance Communications, which the complaint notes has contracts with military and law enforcement agencies.
With everything from toys to cars now incorporating wireless internet connections, privacy experts are increasingly raising concerns about how these consumer goods open the door to hackers, privacy violations and other problematic behaviors. Last year, Mattel (MAT) found itself in hot water for its "Hello Barbie" doll, which is enabled with WiFi and could be used to collect information about kids and their families that could later be used for marketing.
IIn the case of the Genesis toys, the complaint alleges that consumers "could not reasonably anticipate that their children's voices and text would be recorded and used in this way."
"The use of children's voice and text information to enhance products and services sold to military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies creates a substantial risk of harm because children may be unfairly targeted by these organizations if their voices are inaccurately matched to recordings obtained by these organizations," the complaint asserts.
Genesis didn't immediately return a request for comment. In a blog post, Nuance executive Richard Mack wrote, "Nuance takes data privacy seriously." He added that the company hasn't heard from the FTC.
"Our policy is that we don't use or sell voice data for marketing or advertising purposes," Mach wrote. "Upon learning of the consumer advocacy groups' concerns through media, we validated that we have adhered to our policy with respect to the voice data collected through the toys referred to in the complaint."
EPIC said it believes the toys should be pulled from stores. "Immediately, we'd like to see the FTC require them to recall the dolls and stop further sales until they address the concerns we raise," said Claire Gartland, director of the Consumer Privacy Project at EPIC.
Gartland added that the toys "normalize surveillance to children, that it's OK to have their trusted best friend spying on them or recording their every word."
My Friend Cayla, which costs $59.93 at, is billed as "a wonderful choice for a young child who needs a companion." The i-Que Robot is sold at British retailers for about $75 and is described as having a "wicked sense of humor" and "wacky sound effects."
Why is there even a ruling on this?

Any corporation that puts listening devices in toys should automatically have their officers put in jail like the criminals they are.
Albert Doyle Wrote:Why is there even a ruling on this?

Any corporation that puts listening devices in toys should automatically have their officers put in jail like the criminals they are.

Oh, but they did MORE than put listening devices in toys...they had CONTRACTS to send all of the voice and video information to some private and state intelligence agencies!
Sadly, while this is a bit more pernicious because it is aimed at children, the current 'wave' of smart appliances in the home can all be made to spy on a person and a family - from your home security center to your refrigerator and toaster, many of the new versions of which have embedded electronics that can be used to monitor voice in the home and some even video. So, it is not much different than it was in the novel 1984 where one could not turn off the screen with Big Brother - a screen that both spoke and heard, showed propaganda and saw all that one did. That they now want to even spy on children is a new low. I suppose they also want to spy on our pets and likely have already.
The invisible hand of the free market slitting the throat of democracy. An understandable evolution of the alliance between corporate, military, and government.