Sunday 25 February 2018

Germany bans dolls over hack fears

Cayla dolls, which a German watchdog claims could be used by hackers to target children
Cayla dolls, which a German watchdog claims could be used by hackers to target children

Justin Huggler in Berlin

Germany has banned a talking doll that can connect to the internet over fears its technology could be exploited by hackers to target children.

The German telecommunications watchdog advised parents who have already bought the popular Cayla dolls to destroy them, but stopped short of ordering them to do so.

The doll, which was released in 2014, can interact with children and answer their questions.

It connects to the internet and uses a combination of voice recognition software and Google searches to provide answers. But the watchdog has ruled that the technology used to connect to the internet is unsafe.

Cayla uses an unsecured Bluetooth device inside the doll to connect to the internet via an app on a mobile phone. The watchdog says that technology could be exploited by criminals to target children.

"Without the parents' knowledge, conversations between the child and others can be recorded and forwarded," the watchdog said.

"A company could also use the toys to target the child or parents with advertising.

"Furthermore, if the radio link is not properly secured.. the toy can be used by nearby parties to eavesdrop on conversations."

Genesis Toys, which makes the dolls, has yet to comment on the watchdog's ruling.

Irish Independent

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