A doll looks like stuffed fabric and it would never occur to me that it might contain a microphone that's sending what I'm saying in the room.
I also wouldn't expect a TV to have a microphone, but smart TVs proved me wrong.
The FAQ pdf of the doll:
"Do I need an internet connection to play with Cayla?
An internet connection will be required to download the free app which unlocks all of the fun things which Cayla can do. Some functions, such as searching for information on the internet (famous people, places, time, weather, etc), require an internet connection. Cayla can do lots offline, like having conversations, playing games, reading stories, and exploring her photo album. In fact, most of the interactive play requires no internet connection at all."
I agree that it's not clearly stated that it's the recording of the voice that gets transmitted somewhere. But it's obvious that something is transmitted. Somebody can compare with the manuals of the "listening" TVs.
The site of the doll:
"Ask Cayla Questions -- ONLINE"
"Play games like noughts and crosses together -- Offline"
See my other post here for more technical details.
Assume you are a visitor somewhere, back at the time when smart TVs where still new and uncommon. You see two things in a room: A regular-looking doll and a TV. A doll is made out of fabric, so a doll cannot transmit your voice. A TV is – that's known to any layperson – a complex technological object that does a lot of stuff with electronics. It's not absolutely far-fetched to assume a probability that it contains a microphone. That's the difference in the eyes of the law. The "smart doll" is in fact not a doll but a microphone-speaker-device concealed in a doll. The TV does not conceal anything, it's just "electronicy" looking.
I've never heard of anybody argue that Smart TVs fall under that law even when they were new.
If am certain than a common person does not expect TV to be equipped with a microphone transmitter. This is not a function of a TV.
That it has been somehow overlooked does not make it right.
>Jedes bluetoothfähige Gerät in Reichweite von etwa zehn Metern kann eine Verbindung zu ihr [der Puppe] aufbauen und Lautsprecher und Mikrofon nutzen. In einem Versuch hatte ich auch über mehrere Wände hindurch auf die Puppe Zugriff.
Google Translate: Each bluetooth capable device within a range of about ten meters can connect to it [the doll] and use speakers and microphone. In an attempt I had access to the doll over several walls.
The mobile application does any local processing and handles queries to remote servers and such.
Do these laws apply to the state?
For example, there is currently a commission which investigates the "NSA Affair". Just yesterday, chancellor Merkel was questioned for hours.
Good german news about NSA-UA: https://netzpolitik.org/tag/nsa-ua/
It is also depressing that they were unable to invite Snowden.
I am especially amused by the claim that at one point there was a compromising picture on the internet, as if there is a viable way to eliminate such a thing from continued existence on the internet.
Suprisingly, you are right.
There was a report and the picture was shown (I've seen it!) in a Swiss magazine. The website does not work anymore:
Ms. Merkel disputed the publication of this image since it would violate her "privacy rights".
Otherwise, just google "IM Eirka"
On a discussion board someone asked if the German chancellor could be blackmailed if someone had this information? Answer from another user:"How? Everybody knows already she was working for the state security..."
I'm not saying it's guaranteed untrue, but it seems without real evidence and therefore without merit.
Here is a bad English translation of some information:
This picture in front of Havemann actually IS in the pdf. 1. What was she doing, far in the outskirts of Berlin, in front of the house if this dissident?
2. Why does this picture violate her "privacy rights"? (What in fact proofs that it is her on the picture)
> What was she doing, far in the outskirts of Berlin, in front of the house if this dissident?
I have no idea. I don't know why being in the outskirts of Berlin seems questionable. Maybe it's odd that she was in front of a dissident's house. Maybe there was a clear reason to be there. Maybe she was going to a pub. I have no clue and don't think this random picture is very interesting by itself.
"I have no idea. I don't know why being in the outskirts of Berlin seems questionable."
Because there war nothing to do there. No Pubs. No Bars. Nothing. And his house was observed around the clock, including by many unofficial state security helpers.
Why does she not say what she was doing there?
Why does the publication of the picture violate her privacy?
It was media from Switzerland that asked the serious questions. Not German media. So what was she doing there? Nothing? Just chance? Take her word for it! She admitted she was requested to become an unofficial state security member but never signed (still was admitted to University). Take her word for it! Her father was a pastor, something that was not liked in the GDR. Still she was allowed to study in the UdSSR as an exchange student, a huge privilege. Just luck, take her word for it! Later as a scientist she was allowed to visit conferences abroad, again a huge privilege. During the break-up of the GDR she walked "by chance" by church were all the dissidents met and thought "why not let's have a look?"
Look, do I know that Merkel was working for the Stasi? No.
Do I like her? No.
But I think there are many serious questions to be asked and basically for all answers we have to take her word.
One thing I wonder. The Russians prefer that Merkel does not stay chancellor. If she worked for the State security it is likely that the Russians have compromising material. We may now before the next elections.
In all seriousness, as an example, data retention laws are a huge topic in Germany, that have been rejected by courts again and again.
The EU data retention directive was struck down at an EU level by an Irish campaign group https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Retention_Directive
Portuguese is usually not supported, and if it is, usually is the Brazilian variant, and I don't feel like playing accents just for making myself understood.
Also I have a multi-cultural life, so something like sending an email to someone usually requires at very least two languages, which those devices don't support.
Killing Cortana is one of the first steps of everybody I know who switched to Win10.
Haven't seen an Amazon Echos yet, not even in flats which homeowners use a massive amount of home automation gadgets.
- East German
She is using Siri a lot.
That and taking videos/pictures of everything :)
However, I recently bought a German Amazon Dot device and I think I'll keep it. Right now, it's main job is to play music but I also use it for setting timers and to tell me the current time and weather. I've never used other "voice-based assistants" before but I can see the benefits that come with a dedicated device like the Amazon Echo. It's really comfortable if you can control things with your voice, you don't have to get to your PC or smartphone first. I'll probably integrate it with my home automation system to control lighting, and maybe add a media center like Plex/XMBC, too.
Edit: The only thing that bothers me is that the German voice is not as fine-tuned as the English one, and as of now there are not many skills available (built-in as well as third party), so I switched it to English. But guess what - you can't use the English skills unless you port your German Amazon account to amazon.com... the Echo is essentially handled like a kindle device on the server side, which means you'll lose all your eBooks and music if you switch...
However, as usual there are parts of the german society that won't have any issues using stuff like Alexa. "I have nothing to hide" is also a popular way of thinking in Germany, history be damned.
Could be a subjective impression, linked to the project and wrong when looking at the bigger society, but at least so far I believed it. I acknowledge that Austria was also part of the streetview hysteria that broke the project over here. Might be a differing indicator.
Once paired, the Internet-dependent functionality is provided by the device and the app with which the doll was paired. The attacks are possible because the hacker can provide his own "server side" handling (the doll being the client).
The doll has a built in microphone and speaker.
It's the app on the mobile phone that connects to the internet and "transcripts" the voice of the questions into something that can be processed by sending it to some servers. The iOS version of the app can do 3000 transcriptions before you have to purchase more.
From what I read, when not paired, the doll is offline but if powered it still "talks" and "listens", just without the processing possible through the app and the servers across the internet and for EU, that's another problem: are the servers in the EU or not, are they doing special treatment of the data as it's known the data are from minors etc.
That it transmits the voice of unsuspecting children (who of course also have privacy rights) to who-knows-where is just the icing on the cake.
Funny, but when the State does Surveillance, all of a sudden it's OK.
So it's illegal unless the state says so. Who do you think the judge's boss is?