The Cayla doll, the first interactive doll was launched in 2014. The doll can be your daughter’s best friend because it has the capability to answer questions once connected to the internet. The doll which is manufactured by US- based Genesis Toys and distributed in Europe through Guildford-based Vivid Toy Group works through a combination of voice recognition software and an app that controls the toy.
However, the German telecommunications watchdog has given an order to parents to either destroy or disable the “smart doll” because it can be used to illegally spy on children. Germany’s Federal Network Agency has announced that Cayla is classified as an illegal espionage apparatus. If retailers and owners will continue to stock or fail to disable the toy’s internet connection, they will face fines.
Germany’s laws make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess a surveillance device disguised in the form of an object. Failure to comply with the law may mean jail sentence of up to two years. Although the toy was voted as one of the top toys of 2014 by a German toy trade association, concerns have been raised regarding its security.
Stefan Hessel, a university student raised the concern that access to the doll is completely unsecured because it does not use a password for protection. According to Hessel, hackers can easily access the doll through a Bluetooth connection up to distance of 15 meters. Hackers could directly interact with the child playing the toy or listen to conversations.
The German ruling could have a potential effect for EU toy manufacturers. Vera Jourova, EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, is worried about the impact of the toy to children’s privacy and safety. Vivid Toy Group has previously said that incidents of hacking are isolated and carried out by experts.
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