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'Spy doll' pulled from shelves in Germany

dpa logodpa 18/02/2017

A talking doll has been banned by German authorities because its software could be hacked and used to spy on children.

A talking doll has been banned in Germany over fears it could be used to spy on and speak with children.

Telecommunication regulator the Federal Network Agency says parents who bought the My Friend Cayla wireless doll should destroy it.

"Objects that contain hidden cameras or microphones which can transmit data undetected endanger people's private spheres. This also applies to children's toys," agency head Jochen Homann said.

My Friend Cayla uses speech recognition to answer children's questions.

A bluetooth device embedded in the doll connects to an app that searches the internet for the answers, which it then reads out.

The doll has been criticised by European consumer rights groups for being unsafe.

In November, they warned that due to security gaps, outsiders with some technical ability would be able to hack into it to talk to children.

The agency said any toy that was technically capable of making secret sound or image recordings was banned in Germany and it would be investigating other interactive toys.

The American manufacturer of the doll, Genesis Toys, which says it has sold at least one million of them since they first went on sale in 2015, was unavailable for comment on Friday.

Surveillance is a sensitive issue in Germany, where East Germany's Stasi secret police and the Nazi-era Gestapo kept a close watch on the population.

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