Spying Doll: Germany Bans My Friend Cayla For Security Reasons

By alexa ancheta, Parent Herald February 19, 11:18 am
Parents have been warned from allowing their kids to play with the "My Friend Cayla" doll as it is being used to spy on their private information.

(Photo : Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

Bundesnetzagentur, a watchdog group in Germany, has banned the My Friend Cayla doll for security reasons. The ban came after the agency discovered the doll could be used by hackers to acquire information using Bluetooth technology.

Parents and children have become enamored with My Friend Cayla because it is a very charming doll that can play games and answer questions. Parents, however, have been advised to take precautions with this doll as it could be spying on them.

"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," Bundesnetzagentur President Jochen Homann said. The Cayla doll has been banned in Germany to protect the most vulnerable in our society," he added.

The My Friend Cayla doll is only one of the many connected toys that have become the subject of a complaint filed by more than 18 groups last year, according to Engadget. These privacy groups have lodged their complaints with the European Union and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The groups cited the deceptive practices and violation against privacy laws committed by Genesis Toys and Nuance, its technology partner.

Aside from taking the My Friend Cayla dolls off the shelves in Germany, parents were also urged to destroy the dolls to prevent them from giving out their personal data, as per BBC. The security breach, however, was denied by the U.K. Toy Retailers Association even as it assured the public that there is no cause for alarm.

My Friend Cayla distributor Vivid Toy Group earlier confirmed the hackings but claimed these were few and done by specialists. It also assured customers that it will inform the company about the problem. Defects in the software used by the doll manufacturer have been discovered in 2015 and yet it has persisted.

The My Friend Cayla doll makes use of a WiFi and Bluetooth connection to be able to answer questions, according to NBC News. There is a possibility that these features can be used for espionage. The doll has been classified illegal and unlicensed.

What are your thoughts about the My Friend Cayla dolls? Sound off below. 

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