These dolls are spying on your kids, consumer groups say

Consumer watchdog groups say Genesis Toys' My Friend Cayla doll and I-Que robot can spy on children.

Story highlights

  • In a complaint, consumer watchdogs allege that two toys record and upload conversations
  • Toymaker Genesis Toys didn't immediately respond to a request for comment
  • Tech company Nuance says it doesn't sell or use data for marketing or advertising

(CNN)Can that new doll or toy robot you bought as a Christmas gift for your child spy on your family?

A group of consumer watchdogs say that a pair of items made by Genesis Toys records conversations, and the watchdogs alleges that they upload the recordings to Nuance Communications, a voice technology company that has military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies as clients.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), along with the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, the Center for Digital Democracy and Consumers Union have filed a complaint (PDF) with the Federal Trade Commission over the My Friend Cayla doll and the i-Que robot. EPIC and the other consumer watchdogs claim the "toys subject young children to ongoing surveillance" and violate privacy and consumer protection laws.
    "Both Genesis Toys and Nuance Communications unfairly and deceptively collect, use, and disclose audio files of children's voices without providing adequate notice or obtaining verified parental consent," the complaint says.
    Genesis didn't immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

    Recordings uploaded

    The doll and robot are internet-connected toys that children can talk and interact with. When children ask the toys a question, the words are recorded and converted to text so answers can be retrieved from Google, Wikipedia and Weather Underground. These recorded words, phrases and conversations are also uploaded to Nuance, a voice technology.