Germany Bans a Doll with Voice-Recognition Technology

What would you say of this news that reports of Germany having labeled a kids’ doll as an espionage device and has therefore banned it?

Believable or Not?

What would you say of this news that reports of Germany having labeled a kids’ doll as an espionage device and has therefore banned it? world of espionage has always been at the forefront of technology. Related news and true accounts of spies always provide content that fascinates and leaves one surprised; at times shocked. Here’s an excerpt from www.npr.org:

It’s nice to have a friend who’s a good listener, but a doll called My Friend Cayla listens a little too well, according to German regulators who say the toy is essentially a stealthy espionage device that shares what it hears and is also vulnerable to takeover by third parties.

“Cayla ist verboten in Deutschland,” says Jochen Homann, the president of Germany’s Federal Network Agency (the Bundessnetzagentur), announcing a ban on the doll in Germany on Friday. His agency oversees electronic privacy as part of its telecommunications mandate; Homann also cites a special obligation to protect the privacy of children, calling them the most vulnerable members of society.

The heart of the problem, Homann says, is that Cayla looks like an everyday doll and gives no notice that it collects and transmits everything it hears — in this case, to a voice-recognition company in the U.S. whose other customers include intelligence agencies.

Nuance, the U.S. company in question, has said in response to similar criticisms that it “does not share voice data collected from or on behalf of any of our customers with any of our other customers.”

The My Friend Cayla doll remains for sale in the U.S., including via Amazon. It’s not currently available on the websites of either Toys R Us or Wal-Mart. A Toys R Us representative confirms that the doll isn’t offered for sale in its stores, either.

To ban the doll in Germany, regulators invoked a federal law against espionage devices. And because that law provides fines of up to 25,000 euros for anyone who insists on selling or owning the equipment, the agency clarified in today’s ruling that it doesn’t plan to pursue actions against parents who bought the doll.

Reported By             

Bill Chappel

Reporting Organization/website

www.npr.org

Reported In

February 17, 2017

Image via www.myfriendcayla.com

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