IN GERMANY, people are outraged by the news that a doll that can listen to what a child says, record that information, connect to the internet and be hacked.
We have heard of bad dolls before. Often they appear in horror movies like Child's Play, sometimes they are just cursed and live on a shelf in your nan's spare bedroom with eyes that follow you around. In this instance it is a doll called Cayla.
Cayla looks like she might come to life in the middle of the night and start eating your eyes but that is not the worst thing about her. The BBC reports that in Germany, the telecoms watchdog called the Bundesnetzagentur, or Federal Network Agency, has checked out Cayla and found that she represents a huge threat to privacy,
The Bundesnetzagentur, which we thought was something that grows on toes, has recommended that parents destroy the doll before anyone gets breached. Destroy seems like a strong word, and we can only hope that parents do not decide to destroy the doll in front of their children, as that as an incident and an image that might stick with them.
The concern is not limited to Germany and other investigations are going on into the doll in Europe and in the US. The US case has been raised by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and demands that the Federal Communications Commission takes note.
The manufacturer has not commented, nor has Nuance Communications which makes the software that makes Cayla so dangerously smart.
Of course, Cayla is not the only plastic threat to your young. Barbie has also made an effort to put your princesses privacy at risk. A thing called Hello Barbie caused concerns at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) in 2015.
"This holiday season, Mattel hopes to make Hello Barbie, a doll that records and analyses children's private conversations, a must-have toy. But experts agree: it's a threat to children's privacy, well-being and creativity," the CCFC warned.
"Children confide in dolls and reveal intimate details about their lives, but Hello Barbie won't keep those secrets. When Barbie's belt buckle is held down, everything your child says is transmitted to cloud servers where it will be stored and analysed by ToyTalk, Mattel's technology partner. Employees of ToyTalk and their partner corporations listen to recordings of children's conversations, and ToyTalk won't even say who their partners are."
Barbie remains a bad idea. µ
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