Parents Beware! Popular Christmas Toys Could Be Spying On Children; Consumer Groups File FTC Complaint

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald December 08, 04:00 am
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Dolls with internet capabilities could be breaching children's privacy and consumer watchdog groups have file a complaint against its manufacturers.
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images )

Some popular Christmas toys that parents might have bought for their children are believed to be equipped with features that could spy on them. Consumer groups have already filed a complaint with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with regards the privacy breach.

CNET identifies the toys as the My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Intelligent Robot, which are featured with speech-recognition software. To fully operate, these toys require an internet connection that could be encroaching on children's privacy.

The report further states that while the kids can actually talk to the smart toys, these dolls ask personal details like where they live, where they go to school, as well as their favorites. According to She Knows, the dolls record the data and to some extent, these toys are "always listening." Children do not require pressing on a button to turn it on. As long as it is connected, it picks up what the children say.

"The toys subject young children to ongoing surveillance and are deployed in homes across the United States without any meaningful data protection standards," the FTC complaint stated, citing violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. The groups who submitted it are the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy Consumers Union.

Genesis Toys manufactures the dolls but its software was developed and equipped by Nuance Communications. The latter said that the voice data is not shared to any party. Genesis Toys has not commented on the complaints yet, WSOCTV reports.

She Knows points out that Nuance Communications also provide software for defense and military operations. In a blog post to reiterate their commitment to children's privacy, Nuance Communications further said that it has yet to receive an FTC notice.

Previous reports indicate that these Genesis Toys were also vulnerable to hacking, according to Mirror. Parents, do your kids own these dolls? Do you think it's a threat to your child's privacy? Sound off in the comments below!

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