The doll “My Friend Cayla” has already been the target of numerous complaints in the United States but also in Europe. The toy’s internal microphone recorded kids’ conversations without proper consent, thus violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The idea behind it was that the recorded audio was sent to a voice-to-text server (owned by a third party) and then the resulting text was used to search the internet. This is how the doll was able to answer questions like “What’s a baby kangaroo called?” or even play simple games.
The Federal Trade Commission did not take any measures against Cayla or its makers Manufacturer Genesis Toys until now. However, German privacy and data laws are well known for being more rigid and severe than those in the United States of America. Germany’s legislators are vigilant against infringements like this. The law forbids the possession or sale of any product that can be used for hidden surveillance, no matter of its packaging and/or form.