Amid the aisles and aisles of toys in stores like Target, Cayla sits on the shelf. She looks innocent, but at least three consumer advocate groups say she is nothing but trouble.
Josh Golin, Executive Director of the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood says, “Parents are buying this doll without any clue their children are essentially being spied on”.
Spied on, by a third party that collects data from the internet-connected toy. In this case, your child’s voice. Here’s how they explain it… your child talks to the doll, that goes through an app or smart device. From there, it’s sent to nuance communications where the data is stored in a cloud. What happens then is what groups want the FTC to investigate. At a minimum, the groups fear kids play is scoring points for marketers.
Golin says, “For instance Cayla talks a lot about Disney products and going to Disneyland, so there’s a real possibility for product placement to occur within the doll itself.”
But worse, the consumer advocacy groups warn in their petition to the FTC, there are no security measures on the doll. Anyone with a Bluetooth connection close-by could hack in.
Golin says, “Obviously the idea of a stranger being able to talk to your child while they’re in their bedroom playing with their doll is beyond creepy.”
For some shoppers, all this is enough to steer away from certain internet connected toys. Others, weren’t going down that aisle in the first place.
One shopper, Lea Foster, says, “I think it’s imagination a little girl playing with the baby doll that doesn’t talk back to you kind of give them more of an imagination for themselves to be involved with.”
Cayla is just one of the toys in the FTC complaint. The complaint also names the I-Que Intelligent Robot, also made by Genesis Toys.