CARU Refers Genesis Toys, Maker of Cayla ‘Connected’ Doll, to FTC After Company Fails to Respond to Privacy Inquiry

New York, NY – July 12, 2017  – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has referred Genesis Toys, the maker of “My Friend Cayla Party Time” doll and the operator of an accompanying  app and website, to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for further review, after the company failed to provide a substantive response to CARU initial privacy inquiry.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. CARU monitors websites and apps for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including guidelines on privacy protection, as well as with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

CARU, as part of its initial privacy review, asked Genesis Toys:

  • Whether the app collects personally identifiable information in the form of name, address, geolocation, persistent identifiers and audio recordings of a child’s voice without first giving notice to parents of its actions or obtaining verifiable parental consent as required by COPPA and the Guidelines.
  • Whether the Privacy Policy contains a complete description of what information the operator collects from children, how it uses that information and how that information may be disclosed.
  • Whether Genesis provides information about third parties that collect and use children’s voice recordings.
  • Whether the Privacy Policy contains adequate contact information.
  • Whether the Privacy Policy provides procedures for a parent to review, have the child’s personal information deleted or for parents to refuse to permit further collection or use of such personal information.
  • Whether Genesis provides a prominent link to a Privacy Policy on the homepage of its website or anywhere within its app.
  • Whether the operator provides direct notice to parents of its information practices, including direct notice of any material changes to those practices.
  • Whether Genesis employs reasonable security measures, such as authentication within the app, to ensure there is no unauthorized use of the doll.
  • Whether Genesis follows COPPA’s deletion and data retention requirements.
  • Whether Genesis’ packaging for the doll is deceptive because it does not explain to parents that children’s personal information can be collected and represents that the doll is equipped with “Kid Safe Internet.”

The company failed to file a substantive written response to either CARU’s original inquiry letter or CARU’s 15-day follow-up letter.

Given the advertiser’s decision against participation in the self-regulatory process, CARU has referred the advertising at issue to the FTC for review, pursuant to NAD/CARU Procedures.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.