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Privacy groups say talking dolls asking kids private questions


A consortium of privacy and consumer advocacy groups has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission requesting an investigation and injunction on two internet-connected talking toys that may be recording and transmitting children's personal information.

The complaint states that Genesis Toys and Nuance Communications “unfairly and deceptively collect, use, and disclose audio files of children's voices “without providing adequate notice or obtaining verified parental consent in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protec tion Act (“COPPA”), the COPPA Rule, and Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.” The toys in question are the My Friend Cayla and I-Que dolls.

The complainants stated that the toy's companion app requests permission to access the device's storage, mic, Wi-Fi connection, Bluetooth and camera, even though the latter item is not needed for the toy to function.

The dolls, made by Genesis, connect to the internet via Bluetooth and are capable of asking questions such as the child's and parents names, school, favorite TV shows, and location using voice recognition software developed by Nuance. This data is then stored on a Nuance server. The fact that this information is being collected is included in the toys' terms of service and parents are recommended to frequently check the devices' privacy policy for changes, the complaint states.

Genesis Toys did not respond to an SC Media request for a response.

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