Internet-Enabled Toys Ask Too Many Questions

Internet-of-Toys are obtaining data from little children without permission


Thu, Dec 8th, 2016 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Internet-enabled toys — or Internet-of-Toys — are raising a stink for their design, lack of clarity on their privacy policy, and for violating laws involving children. The toys, which reportedly ask too many personal questions, are powered by Nuance Communications' voice-recognition software, a company also offering products for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The Cayla doll prompts children to provide their names, their parents' names, the name of their school, and the name of the place where they live, the complaint says. The information is shared with Nuance, which also offers law enforcement and intelligence products, and that company has few restrictions on how it can use the information from the toys, the groups say. In addition, packaging for the Cayla doll makes no mention of privacy issues, and locating its terms of service is a "major challenge," the privacy groups allege. The privacy policy and terms of use provide little information about what information is collected from children or how it's used, the groups say.

It gets weirder: because of Nuance's general privacy policy, they are pretty much allowed to do whatever they want with the data — unless you're under 18, at which point you need parental permission. Except the toys are designed for "4 and up" and the privacy policies either disappear after installing the app, are legally wrong, or are impossible to find:

For starters, what privacy policies do exist for these toys are hard to find. The companion apps do not immediately link to the privacy policy, notes the complaint to the FTC, nor does the Cayla doll’s packaging make any reference to the toy’s privacy policy or terms of service.

Similarly, Cayla’s Terms of Service are not available on the website or in the app; they only show once, as a pop-up, the first time you open the app — preventing anyone from going back and reading them later.

Even worse: these Terms are subject to change without notice, the complaint continues. It quotes the privacy policy for both toys (Cayla, i-Queue) as reading, “This Privacy Statement may be updated from time to time, so you may wish to check it each time you submit personal information to us.” Which, yes, would be basically every single time anyone says something in the toy’s hearing range.



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