It's the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is just around the corner and soon we'll be able to share some holiday cheer with our loved ones.
With all of the fantastic advances in technology, it's much easier to find toys that will wow your young children or grandchildren. Seeing the joy on their faces when they tear open gifts Christmas morning is priceless. However, before finishing your shopping, you need to know about some new tech toys that are causing some privacy concerns.
These concerns are associated with smart toys that are connected to the internet. Several privacy groups have filed complaints with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as the European Union. They are accusing Genesis Toys, along with its tech partner Nuance, of violating deceptive practices and privacy laws.
Why privacy groups are complaining
Privacy groups are expressing concern that certain smart toys are recording the children's voices. They're specifically concerned with the toys i-Que and My Friend Cayla.
They claim that these toys record the kids' voices, without the required permissions, and send the recordings to Nuance. The fear is that these recording databases could be sold to police or intelligence agencies.
Another concern is the way the toys connect to Bluetooth devices. The toys don't have a safeguard built in, meaning any unauthorized Bluetooth device could connect to them.
The privacy groups said that could allow someone to eavesdrop on the children. In the formal complaint, they state this could lead to, "predatory stalking and physical danger."
Watch this video from the Norwegian Consumer Council. It demonstrates the toys' flaws and how someone can connect their phone through Bluetooth and speak to the children.
The FTC hasn't commented on these complaints as of now. It will be interesting to see if this leads to changes in the way smart toys are produced.
Other smart toys even have cameras built in, which brings up another level of worry. Last year we warned you that the Hello Barbie was able to be hacked because it has a Wi-Fi connection.
We will stay on top of this story and give you any updates when the FTC addresses the concerns. Keep checking our Happening Now section for all updates.