‘Spy’ toys face bite of Euro­pean and US watch­dogs

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Brus­sels

Con­sumer watch­dogs an­nounced on Tues­day that they are fil­ing com­plaints against a clutch of smart toys that can “spy” on chil­dren and their homes, for al­legedly breach­ing pri­vacy and data pro­tec­tion laws.

The com­plaints tar­get smart toys My Friend Cayla, i-QUE In­tel­li­gent Ro­bot and Hello Bar­bie, ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Con­sumer Or­gan­i­sa­tion BEUC and groups in the United States like the Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter.

Com­plaints are be­ing filed with French and other Euro­pean au­thor­i­ties as well as the US Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion.

In­ter­net-con­nected Cayla and i-QUE, man­u­fac­tured by Los An­ge­les-based Ge­n­e­sis Toys, hook up with a user via a phone or tablet while Hello Bar­bie links to the in­ter­net through Wi-Fi, said the con­sul­tancy Bou­vet on be­half of the Nor­we­gian Con­sumer Coun­cil.

Hello Bar­bie is not sold in Europe.

“By pur­pose and de­sign, these toys record and col­lect the pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions of young chil­dren with­out any lim­i­ta­tions on col­lec­tion, use, or dis­clo­sure of this per­sonal in­for­ma­tion,” EPIC and other US watch­dogs said in their com­plaint, which they say “con­cerns toys that spy”.

BEUC, cit­ing the study com­mis­sioned by the Nor­we­gian Con­sumer Coun­cil, ex­pressed se­cu­rity con­cerns.

“With sim­ple steps, any­one can take con­trol of the toys through a mo­bile phone. This makes it pos­si­ble to talk and lis­ten through the toy with­out hav­ing phys­i­cal ac­cess to the toy,” it said.

It al­leged the terms breach the EU Un­fair Con­tract Terms Direc­tive and the EU Data Pro­tec­tion Direc­tive and pos­si­bly the Toy Safety Direc­tive.

“Any­thing the child tells the doll is trans­ferred to the US-based com­pany Nu­ance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, who spe­cialises in speech recog­ni­tion tech­nolo­gies,” it said.

EPIC and the other US groups like The Cam­paign for a Com­mer­cial Free Child­hood urged the trade com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the col­lec­tion, use and dis­clo­sure of the data.

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