We have all heard the saying “big-brother is watching,” however, this popular children’s doll is bringing that saying to a whole new level. This children’s toy has been found to collect and transmit personal information from unsuspecting children to a U.S. defense contractor.
A complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, the My Friend Cayla doll and I-Que Intelligent Robot toy, made by Genesis Toys Inc., secretly records everything children say and send the information to a defense contractor named Nuance Communications.
Children are known for saying everything that is on their minds; kids say a lot of random, unsolicited, or just plain personal things to their toys while they are playing. When the toy is stuffed with cotton or beans, it doesn’t matter, but when the toy is an internet connected recording device that ships off audio filed to a remote server without even notifying parents.
In a filed complaint, the Federal Trade Commission, the coalition, made up of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), and our colleagues at Consumers Union, argue that Genesis Toys, a company that manufactures interactive and robotic toys, and Nuance Communications, which supplies the voice-parsing services for these toys, are running afoul of ruled that protect children’s privacy and prohibiting unfair and deceptive practices. View the PDF file here.
When users first set up the app for their toy, they may be sharing data you don’t want shared. Cayla, in particular, asks for multiple pieces of personal information; the child’s name, their parent’s names, their school name, their hometown, among other questions, so it can converse more “naturally”. The app also allows for location settings, and both the Cayla and i-Que apps collect users’ IP addresses.