Your Kid’s Best Friend Could be a Spy

BAD DEALS--Your mission should you choose to accept it! Destroy Cayla the spy! 

Two years after it was found to be vulnerable to hackers, Cayla the doll with several identities has been deemed guilty of illegal espionage device according to Germany's telecommunications regulator, Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur). If you listen to BBC News in an article they published on Feb. 17, 2017, Germans on both sides of the former wall are pretty darn careful when it comes to matters of surveillance. They are having none of it.[i] 

Penalties for possessing banned surveillance devices can result in up to two years in the big house over in Deutschland. Parents have been advised to destroy Cayla and never look back. 

Across the water in the UK, the Retailers Association isn't worried about the spy, even though researchers have been able to listen to and talk to children from up to 33 feet away. They've even been able to accomplish this THROUGH SEVERAL WALLS! Indeed, some researchers have been able to get Cayla to sprew foul epithets. 

Here in the U.S., My Friend Cayla is under investigation as well. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Cayla’s ability to upload children’s speech is an undue violation of privacy[ii]. According to a compliant filed with the FTC, corporations can insert their productions into conversations with the children straight through the mouth of good ole Cayla. 

Turns out the U.S. maker of the snitch partners up with the same database maintenance team that develops and maintains voice recognition software for law enforcement and the military. Zowie! Your kid could be Navy Seal ready before she even gets to first grade! 

Cayla isn’t the first spy to hit the streets. Hello Barbie was introduced back in November 2015. According to an article in Newsweek soon after her release, kids can say whatever they want to Barbie simply by pressing her belt buckle. She is configured to keep all of this information in a cloud. From time to time, she will ask the child about information the spook has gleaned from the child in the past. The implications are pretty scary if you ask me. 

I’m not the only one who thinks so. A class action suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against Mattel, ToyTalk and KidSafe[iii] claiming that Barbie is a dangerous gal who can and has been hacked. 

I don’t know about you, but I say these dolls are sinister. It’s sad to think that even one of them could be a kid’s best friend. Even if the kid doesn’t tell the doll that much, Barbie and Cayla can pick up intel from anyone within a certain radius. Bad news and a bad deal for free thinking people everywhere.


(Jennifer Caldwell is a an actress and an active member of SAG-AFTRA, serving on several committees. She is a published author of short stories and news articles and is a featured contributor to CityWatch. Her column at is dishing up good deals, recipes and food for thought. Jennifer can be reached at  Facebook: - Twitter: @checkingthegate ... And her website: