German parents told to destroy doll that can spy on children
Germanyâs telecommunications watchdog has ordered parents to destroy or disable a âsmart dollâ because the toy can be used to illegally spy on children.
The My Friend Cayla doll, which is manufactured by the US company Genesis Toys and distributed in Europe by Guildford-based Vivid Toy Group, allows children to access the internet via speech recognition software, and to control the toy via an app.
But Germanyâs Federal Network Agency announced this week that it classified Cayla as an âillegal espionage apparatusâ. As a result, retailers and owners could face fines if they continue to stock it or fail to permanently disable the dollâs wireless connection.
Under German law it is illegal to manufacture, sell or possess surveillance devices disguised as another object. According to some media reports, breaching that law can result in a jail term of up to two years.
The ruling comes after Stefan Hessel, a student at SaarbrĂźcken University, raised concerns about the device, which was voted one of the top 10 toys of the year in 2014 by the German toy trade association.
âAccess to the doll is completely unsecured,â Hessel told SaarbrĂźcker Zeitung. âThere is no password to protect the connection.â
The student said hackers could access the doll via its bluetooth connection from a distance of up to 15 meters, listening in on conversations as well as speaking directly to the child playing with it.
The German ruling could potentially have EU-wide consequences for toymakers. The EUâs commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, Vera JourovĂĄ, said: âIâm worried about the impact of connected dolls on childrenâs privacy and safety.â
Posted by Teri PerticoneShare