Watchdog Tells Parents to Destroy 'Spying' Doll

Germany reclassifies toy as illegal transmitting device
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2017 9:49 AM CST
Germans Urged to Smash 'Spying' Doll
German authorities don't want Cayla to be listening in.   (Genesis Toys)

German authorities have issued a warning to parents that sounds like it was taken from an urban legend: A doll could be spying on their children and should be smashed. The country's Federal Network Agency has reclassified the My Friend Cayla toy as a "concealed transmitting device," which is illegal in Germany, the Independent reports. The Internet-connected Cayla doll has conversations with children about themselves and their parents. Authorities say the device is insecure, meaning hackers could potentially listen and even talk to children playing with it.

The doll has an insecure embedded Bluetooth device, and "in a test, I was able to hack the toy even through several walls. It lacks any security features," said researcher Stefan Hessel, per Reuters. It's not clear whether there have been any cases of hackers targeting Cayla dolls, though CNET reports that complaints have been filed in countries including the US stating that the doll records conversations and transmits files to the company's servers without parental consent. German authorities say Cayla owners won't be prosecuted, but they are expected to destroy the dolls. (A new American Girl doll is unlike any other American Girl doll.)

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