Would you buy your kid a doll that can be compromised by the NSA?

❝ It’s nice to have a friend who’s a good listener, but a doll called My Friend Cayla listens a little too well, according to German regulators who say the toy is essentially a stealthy espionage device that shares what it hears and is also vulnerable to takeover by third parties.

“Cayla ist verboten in Deutschland,” says Jochen Homann, the president of Germany’s Federal Network Agency…announcing a ban on the doll in Germany on Friday. His agency oversees electronic privacy as part of its telecommunications mandate; Homann also cites a special obligation to protect the privacy of children, calling them the most vulnerable members of society.

❝ The heart of the problem, Homann says, is that Cayla looks like an everyday doll and gives no notice that it collects and transmits everything it hears — in this case, to a voice-recognition company in the U.S. whose other customers include intelligence agencies.

❝ Nuance, the U.S. company in question, has said in response to similar criticisms that it “does not share voice data collected from or on behalf of any of our customers with any of our other customers.”

❝ The test question — “Can I tell you a secret?” — brought this reply: “Sure go ahead; be very quiet, though. I promise not to tell anyone; it’s just between you and me because we are friends.”

Regardless what the folks making a living off the doll tell you — Do you think the NSA asks permission from the people they bug?

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One thought on “Would you buy your kid a doll that can be compromised by the NSA?

  1. Stranger Than Fiction says:

    “The Internet of Hackable Things You Don’t Own : How DRM and End User License Agreements have threatened the very idea of ‘ownership’.” https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/the-internet-of-hackable-things-you-dont-own Scroll down to “Open the Pod Bay Doors, Barbie” re: the Wi-Fi-enabled Hello Barbie doll from Mattel. According to the terms of the Hello Barbie EULA (see https://www.toytalk.com/legal/terms/ ) ToyTalk and its unnamed partners have wide latitude to make use of information about your child’s conversations in ways that few parents would anticipate.

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