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Senator Presses FTC on Hackable Toys

Hello Barbie records and stores conversations between kids and their dolls to improve speech-recognition technology and help its makers create more relevant automated responses for kids.

Hello Barbie records and stores conversations between kids and their dolls to improve speech-recognition technology and help its makers create more relevant automated responses for kids. // Mark Lennihan/AP File Photo

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., Monday pressed the Federal Trade Commission on what the agency is doing to keep hackable children’s toys out of the marketplace.

The letter follows a report from security researcher Troy Hunt about CloudPets, an internet-connected teddy bear that allows parents to send recorded messages to their children that left data from hundreds of thousands of users easily hackable online.

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Warner wants to know whether the commission has contacted CloudPets or its parent company Spiral Toys, according to the letter to acting FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen.

Warner also asked if FTC has taken any action against My Friend Cayla, an American-made doll banned in Germany because officials were concerned it could spy on children and families. A coalition of digital privacy groups filed a complaint about My Friend Cayla with FTC in February.

Warner also asked Ohlhausen whether Congress should update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to keep pace with digital threats.

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