My Friend Cayla and I-QUE are part of the newest generation of ‘smart toys’ who boast interactivity as part of their unique selling points.
Is this real life or an Orwellian nightmare? You might want to think twice before purchasing a MyFriend Cayla or i-Que Robot. The smart toys have been accused of sending information to Nuance Communication a defense contractor that sells voice biometric solutions to military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies.
The company have been accused of violating laws relating to children’s online privacy. Companies who gather data regarding children must provide notice to, and obtain consent from parents about their privacy practices. Parents have the right to review their children’s data and have it deleted, or not have it shared with third parties. The terms of service from both companies are long, difficult to find, and subject to change without notice.
Researchers believed that one in five children could be spied on or become the victim of hackers through the internet-connected toys they play with , such as smartphones or tablets, researchers have warned.
The filed reports also claims both toys take IP addresses for the collection of location data, according to their privacy policies, reports Vocativ.
But the group who have addressed the complaint – made up of Electronic Privacy Information Center, Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy and Consumers Union – say that it goes further than just child’s play.
The Cayla doll is preprogrammed with phrases that reference Disney World and Disney movies, such as how much she loves the Walt Disney Co. movie “The Little Mermaid,” that would be difficult for young children to recognize as advertising, according to the groups filing the complaint. Disney had no agreement with Genesis Toys and no knowledge of the toy’s phrases about Disney, a spokeswoman for Walt Disney Co. says.
The I-Que Intelligent Robot functions in a similar way and sells for about $90. My Friend Cayla is sold at Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, Amazon.com and other retailers in countries around the world.