A German telecommunication regulator recently warned families that a doll — called My Friend Cayla — violates privacy law and can be used to spy on families via its internal microphone. Vivid — the parent company of the doll — is based in the United States.
Per the My Friend Cayla website, it is the first interactive doll that uses speech recognition technology to recognize a child’s speech and have a conversation. When a child asks the doll a question, it is sent to a mobile device and then a response is vocalized via the doll.
The head of the German Federal Network Agency said in a statement, “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.” The doll is currently illegal, but the agency will not penalize Vivid.
German regulators are concerned with the ability for the devices to be hacked, giving hackers the ability to spy on owners. Vivid claims to have taken regulation compliance very seriously and are said to be working with the German officials to resolve the issue.