Kids say a lot of random, unsolicited, or just plain personal things to their toys while playing. When that toy is stuffed with just fluff and beans, it doesn’t matter what the kid says: their toy is a safe sounding board. When their playtime companion is an internet-connected recording device that ships off audio files to a remote server without even notifying parents — that’s a whole other kind of problem.
A lot of parents will skim the above, shrug, and think it’s no big deal, because isn’t everything connected now? There’s a big problem with these particular toys though, and that’s a third party, Nuance, who happens to be a defense contractor. You might want to think twice about inviting them into your house to listen to every word.
Nuance is a giant company best-known — to consumers, at least — for its Dragon-branded suite of speech-to-text dictation software. The company also has a significant presence in healthcare dictation, and is — like more large corporations than you’d think — a defense contractor that sells products, including “voice biometric solutions,” to military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies.
It continues, “If you are under 18 or otherwise would be required to have parent or guardian consent to share information with Nuance, you should not send any information about yourself to us.”
Yes, it’s very interesting, that warning being on toys marketed to 4 year olds and up. There’s a lot to this story, and if you’ve found these items on your sproggens’ wish list, you might want to find alternatives. Full story here.