Germany bans talking doll Cayla, citing security risk

BERLIN (Reuters) - A talking doll named Cayla has been banned by German authorities because the software inside her could be hacked, posing a security risk and allowing personal data to be revealed.

The Federal Network Agency recommended that parents who bought the doll for their children destroy it.

“The Cayla doll is banned in Germany,” agency head Jochen Homann said. “This is also about protecting the weakest members of society.”

The software in the doll -- created by the U.S. company Genesis Toys -- allows a child to have a conversation with the doll.

But this carried a risk of espionage and could compromise privacy, Homann said in a statement.

Researcher Stefan Hessel, who had examined the toy and alerted the agency, said hackers could use an unsecure bluetooth device embedded in it to listen and talk to the child playing with it.

“In a test, I was able to hack the toy even through several walls. It lacks any security features,” Hessel told the German website

The German distributer, Vivid GmbH, could not be reached for comment.

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.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Angus MacSwan