Consumer assoc. warns about spying doll

My Friend Cayla doll
My Friend Cayla doll. (Alienpalien / Wikimedia Commons)

Dutch consumers organization Consumentenbond issued a warning about the "My Friend Cayla" doll, following research by its Norwegian counterpart. According to the Norwegian organization, anyone with a smart phone can eavesdrop on children through the doll, or even talk to them. All that is needed is a bluetooth connection to the doll.

The Norwegian consumers association, Forbrukerrådet, also notes that everything children say to the doll is recorded and sent through to Nuance Communications - an American company specializing in speech recognition. This is likely done to analyze what the child says so that the doll can give an answer that makes sense. Nuance Communications says in its general terms and conditions that the information can be shared with third parties.

Forbrukerrådet also investigated Hello Barbie and i-Que Intelligent Robot, but these two toys aren't sold in the Netherlands.

Cayla can be bought through Bart Smit and Intertoys. The Consumentenbond asked Blokker Holding, the owner of Bart Smit and Intertoys, to remove the doll from its assortment due to the problems. The Dutch association also alerted the relevant authorities over the privacy concerns.