Interactive toys from Genesis draw security and privacy concerns

Several consumer protection groups in the US and Europe have filed official complains with the FTC and the corresponding European regulators regarding two tech toys produced by the US-based Genesis Toys.

According to the complaint, the doll “My Friend Cayla” and the robot “i-Que” cause several security and privacy concerns:

Lack of security
An unauthorized mobile phone can be used to remotely establish a bluetooth connection to the toy.  Once paired, the phone can be used to eavesdrop on the conversations near the toy and to converse with the child via the doll.

Collection and use of data
According to the complaint, the terms of use for the toys specify that the voice and usage data collected by the toys is sent back to the manufacturer and Nuance Communications, the vendor providing voice recognition services to Genesis. The terms of use also state the data can be shared with other 3rd parties.

Failure to disclose product placement
Some of the phrases pre-programmed into the toys promote brand-name products, including Disney movies.

Genesis Toys has not yet responded to the complaints. Nuance Communications, which provides voice recognition software for the toys, indicated in a blog post that they have not received an inquiry from the FTC or any other authority regarding this matter.


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