This is what Snowden warned us about! Dolls, right? The My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are designed to talk to your children; they use Bluetooth microphones and speakers to converse and take questions that they then search the Internet for answers to. Another cool thing they do is record these conversations without parental consent.

When you first use the Cayla doll’s companion app, you have to agree to its Terms of Service and tell it what 11 + 16 equals; these are the measures they take to make sure it’s an adult setting the doll up. According to the privacy organizations that filed complaints about the doll, these measures do not constitue parental consent. The i-Que Intelligent Robot doesn’t even have these steps.

The voice data that the dolls collect is sent to Nuane, the same voice analysis firm that powers Siri and Samsung’s S Voice. They also have military contracts, meaning that your child’s private conversations are being sent to a defense contractor. Nuance has other products that they supposedly improve with “collected data,” and the fear here is that your child’s conversations are part of that data, though that can’t be confirmed. Even worse, privacy firms have stated that experts can exploit Bluetooth vulnerabilities to listen to these conversations.

Senator Ed Markey has sent letters to both Nuance and Genesis Toys asking for more information on the issue.

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