back to article Fisher Price's Bluetooth reboot of pre-school play phone has adult privacy flaw

A Bluetooth phone designed to evoke the carefree days of early childhood has been found to instead threaten the very adult prospect of being surveilled in your home. The phone is the Fisher Price Chatter Special Edition, a device that adds Bluetooth and a speaker to the smiling, brightly coloured, wheeled, rotary dial phone on …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Brrrrring

    From a company that always thinks of the children!

    Immediately after calculating the price.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Brrrrring

      Immediately after before calculating the price.

  2. Hawkeye Pierce
    Coat

    Turning it off

    I think I'd be looking to "turn it off" with a hammer...

    1. Terje

      Re: Turning it off

      Or you could gut the insides and replace it with something not quite as incompetent.

    2. Jonathon Green

      Re: Turning it off

      I suspect it’s not actually aimed at Children. I don’t know about anybody else but this has got me seriously thinking about looking out for an original, gutting it, and building my own equivalent…

      1. Anonymous Coward
      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Turning it off

        I've been pondering the same for my Grandfather's old BT phone. Surely someone makes an upgrade kit?

      3. TheWeetabix

        Re: Turning it off

        You absolute s***, now I'm going to have to get one of these for my desk at work and modify it to be functional. I'm in operations so I'm excited to push the boundaries of my coworkers willingness to ignore strange behavior....

      4. RAMChYLD

        Re: Turning it off

        If you're going to do it yourself, surely it'll be smart to save a few quids and just buy the regular version of the phone (which does not come with any electronics inside) to mod.

    3. TheWeetabix

      Re: Turning it off

      Snap off the power cord or drill out the charging ports and quite possibly the electronics, and you're good. The hammer would absolutely be more fun though.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on Barbie

    Let's go Stasi.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This defeats the purpose of the toy. Imagination. Why do they do these things? My kids had one these when they were younger and they loved having conversations.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Windows

      That's modern education for you. Kids must be officially occupied all day long. Not a minute should be spent doing nothing, much less something that's not on the program. Parents are dragging their spawn to club after club during the week. Dancing, sports, horse riding, anything but having them at home where they need to create their own fun.

      These kids have now grown up and are ruining the fun for their kids.

      But hey, can't have a brat bothering you all the time, now can you ?

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        "That's modern education for you."

        Education as entertainment. Part of an established trend for everything to be entertainment. See Neil Postman 'Amusing ourselves to death' 1985

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          This thread is so true.

          Watch any young parent with their kids now. The parents are glued to their phones and the kids are glued to a tablet. No interaction, no talking, no being.

          I think we as a species have pretty much run our course.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The parents are glued to their phones and the kids are glued to a tablet.

            Couldn't be less true in *this* house. In point of fact, I'm glued to by son's xbox and playing forza horizon, whilst he is hiding in his room playing minecraft (java ed) on my old laptop. No phones or tablets in sight.

            See? Much sharing and sociability :-)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Childcatcher

            "I think we as a species have pretty much run our course"

            It has that potential, it used to be that kids ran around, climbed up and down trees, swung on a swing and played cricket ... all physical exercise that helped us strengthen and enlarge our muscles and bones, while keeping our weight down ... but nowadays kids sit on the sofa, post on social media and play Animal Crossing etc., on the TV or their phones.

            The result may be weaker, fatter kids with finger problems and poor eyesight.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Shame on the lot of you in this thread.

              First, this thing isn't really aimed at kids. It's aimed at nostalgic millennials. And yes, I mean millennials, because this thing isn't the Fisher-Price phone that us gen-x-ers had, ours had wood in it and wasn't quite as annoyingly cheerful looking.

              And so what if it was aimed at kids? Here's a little secret: Kids have phones now, and there's nothing wrong with that. Stop it with the bemoaning "lost childhood" crap. I'm over 50, and do you know what I had as a kid? A PHONE. Sure, it had a cord on it, but it was a phone, and it really made calls. I also had walkie-talkies, and by the time I was 10 I had a computer.

              I'm sorry you were so deprived as kids that you only had sticks and rocks to play with, but the rest of us grew up with technology.

              (And as Americans, we had guns too. I was 6 the first time I fired a gun.)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                As a nostalgic millennial you are half correct and half wrong hence the even up/down. Whilst yes if I bought one it would be a novelty for me if my kids were still younger (we are only talking 7-9 years) I would not because they already had one that they both loved playing with.

                As for tech I like you started from a very early age, mine was Atari/BBC Micro B and everything in between up to the age of the PC and DOS. I think what you are missing here is it's not about the tech it's the way it's being used. Sure I had computers but they weren't used as something to distract me. They were something I would play with and use for maybe a few hours a day (more if the weather was crap) after spending all day out and about and that's from a very early age. These days tablets and phones are used as a distraction so if the poor kid gets upset or wants something and the parents first response is to fire up whatever app or game and shove it in the kids face rather than interact and actually do the job of a parent. I see it all the time. That right there is the problem and what people are pointing out.

                As for the gun. I don't think firing a gun at 6 is a good idea. We had pellet guns but real guns at that age? That right there is a Darwin Award in the making.

                1. nonpc

                  In the words of Monty Python (OK late boomer credentials): "Luxury! We had cocoa tins and string...etc.etc.". The fun with technology in those days was (and indeed still is) in trying to make it do what you want it to do instead of what its provider thinks you should want it to do (Thank you Bill G!). To quote Douglas Adams 'Very nearly almost but not quite like...'

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Even if I bought one for nostalgia, as an adult I would think it would get on my nerves very quickly!

                Some years ago, we had this Mickey Mouse animated phone

                https://youtu.be/qpuvDqX4BHg

                It ended up being knocked off the desk and was decapitated.....

              3. Martin
                WTF?

                (And as Americans, we had guns too. I was 6 the first time I fired a gun.)

                Up until then, I'd sympathised with your post. But that last line was clearly put in deliberately to wind up us Brits.

                Downvote administered, with a cheery "Merry Christmas"!

              4. MJB7

                Re: Youth of today

                It's a lost cause. Adults have been complaining about "the youth of today" since _at least_ the ancient Greeks. Strangely, the children seem to turn out OK in the long run.

                1. Geez Money

                  Re: Youth of today

                  Not really the best logic. Something could be a frivolous complaint today but not yesterday, and also vice versa. If there are reasons to believe it might be different this time it's still a concept worth discussing.

                  As an example of a reason to believe it might be different, let me point out that in the past most of this moaning has been largely inter-generational where older people whined endlessly about how the kids today are different from them. Different was automatically assumed to be worse, but it was really about how generations differed. Now take a good look at the posts in this thread, is anyone complaining about the kids or their characteristics? The kids aren't being discussed at all, it's the parents. This is a matter of people looking at the other people /in their own cohort/ and saying 'jeez we collectively shouldn't have been parents'. That, to my knowledge, is somewhat novel.

                  And let me give you a second reason, millenials are the first ones to be raised with all this crap available throughout youth to varying degrees, and thus have a first hand knowledge of how technology interacted with their own development. This knowledge is likely to inform a stance much better than that of anyone older than a millenial. The simple fact is that if you're an Xer, boomer, etc you have no clue what kids really get up to where they intersect with technology because in this case 'I was young once too' is at best irrelevant and at worst leading you down the wrong path.

              5. martinusher Silver badge

                >I'm sorry you were so deprived as kids that you only had sticks and rocks to play with, but the rest of us grew up with technology.

                >(And as Americans, we had guns too. I was 6 the first time I fired a gun.)

                Americans used to have a lot more disposable income than British people so of course you'd have more toys. This isn't necessarily the case these days -- there's a lot more debt and structural poverty stalking both societies. "Things" are a lot cheaper, though, so you may not notice it (until you come to buy a house, that is).

                Guns are not unknown in the UK, they're just not such a fetish as they are in the US. Gun safety is important to teach children here (US) because of the number of accidental shootings that involve children. You never left loaded weapons lying around in the UK** but the message has been difficult to get over here -- people are obsessed with the idea that they can defend life and property so often keep a loaded gun in a drawer. This idea of home defense is a fantasy (as statistics and any PD will tell you) but its difficult to counter fantasy with facts. As for children owning or using guns, a child's first gun is likely to be a BB (as it was in the UK when you could buy such things); they're relatively harmless but still, to quote the movie,"You'll shoot your eye out, kid".

                (**Back before Dublaine it was possible to get a permit for a privately owned handgun in the UK. Among the conditions of that permit was the requirement to keep the gun in a locked safe when not being used -- and to keep its ammunition in another locked safe, never with the gun.)

                1. martinusher Silver badge

                  (See:- https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/29/us/north-carolina-christmas-shooting-toddler-dies/index.html )

              6. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Rich punk.

          3. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

            As no-one seems to give a toss about the climate emergency - you have to put shareholder value before all else - the extinction you hypothesise may come sooner than you think.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Unless it comes WITHIN their lifetime, humans are conditioned not to care about it. They'll be dead anyway and many of them don't have kids.

        2. EnviableOne Silver badge

          edutainment

          I believe is the correct term

          which sends chills down my spike and invokes PTSD of marketing wonk meetings...

          Why they needed a special version I'll never know, the original still sells considerably well, sounds like a case of can we with no should we again.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: edutainment

            It sounds like a case of "if we do we can charge more for it".

          2. Mike 137 Silver badge

            Re: edutainment

            "Edutainment"- only if one operates like Humpty Dumpty in "Alice in Wonderland" for whom any word meant anything he wanted. 'Educate' derives from the Latin meaning 'to draw out", implying that innate talents can be brought into action by teaching. 'Entertain' derives from late Middle English, meaning 'to retain'. implying (now) to hold the attention. Neither 'edu' nor 'tainment' on their own mean anything at all.

            Apart from which (but importantly) the idea that education is intrinsically boring and must be tarted up to make it acceptable derives exclusively from common experiences of lousy teaching. It has a hidden danger that eventually the amusement factor comes to dominate at the expense of learning. Commenting on the general approval of "Sesame Street" by educationalists, Neil Postman stated "we now know that 'Sesame Street' encourages children to love school only if school is like 'Sesame Street'" [Neil Postman, Amusing ourselves to death, Heinemann 1985].

      2. Giles C Silver badge

        Boredom is good

        Being bored and not being subject to constant stimulation is good, it allows you to just think and come up with ideas.

        Also how does this prepare kids for dealing with call centres and ‘your call is important to us’ for 30 minutes.

        Well I suppose this ‘toy’ does the latter?

      3. Plest Silver badge
        Pint

        The death of childhood summed up

        Bang on,

        I had clubs and activities as a kid but that might be judo on Monday night, archery on Thursday and swimming on Saturday morning. The rest of the time outside school and fmaily outings was all mine to do whatever I wanted, sit about daydreaming, playing or going out to play with my mates.

        The problem is that we now have a generation of kids cacooned indoors and parents at their wits end with what to do, too afriad to let our little darlings outside to face rapists, murders, paedos and terrorists that the Daily Fail warns us about every day!

        "Here lies the grave of 'childhood'. Taken from us January 2000.".

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: The death of childhood summed up

          "Here lies the grave of 'childhood'. Taken from us January 2000.".

          Born, 1838 (or thereabouts). For most, there was little "childhood" before the Victorian era. Actually having a childhood, and education, was a great advance for the human race. Such a shame it seems to be ending.

      4. Stevie

        Bah!

        AIEE!

        THE MELDREWS!

        RUUUUUUUN!

      5. elaar

        Not like the good ole days, where the Dad rarely interacted with their children at all (other than to give them a good smack),

        Your comment reads like those left by 70 year olds on the Daily Mail website. It's a bit of a push to suggest leaving children outside pubs to "make their own fun" is better than them doing sport and dance clubs..

        I take my child to softplay quite often. There weren't any such places when I was young. But I'd prefer her climbing in a place made for that rather than creating a makeshift sledge out of a cardboard box and breaking her neck riding it down the stairs.

        I had a NES when I was 10, followed by an Amiga, so I don't see why you find phones/tablets are an issue now, generations use the different technology that's available at the time.

      6. ridley

        As a teacher let me assure you that they spend much more than a minute doing nothing.

        Much, much more....

    2. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Not a toy

      I don't think it is a toy. It's like a bunch of the Mario Brothers stuff, where some people assume it's for kids, but really it's for adults that are collecting Mario stuff. Same thing here I guess.

      That said, who knows why it doesn't use a pair button like any headset etc. does. And why it would not cut the mic until the handset is off hook.

    3. schmeckles65

      1000% true, my daughter now has the tech related stuff as she's more advanced for her age, but she also has the imaginative things where she sits for hours talking to herself and making up scenarios.

      People think these are "cool" but in reality you are starving your child from early learning and being independent.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    I want one

    If it works as a speaker phone then I want one for Teams calls for when the video is supposed to be on!

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: I want one

      Then add the playroom backdrop to your video!

      Perhaps wear some adult diapers!

      Or go for the latex onesie! ------->

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: I want one

        "Or go for the latex onesie! ------->"

        Retro! I don't know what they wore in the UK, but in the USA my early 20th century ancestor wore a Union Suit until the day he died. (His son wore boxers until Y fronts were invented, then Y fronts until bikini briefs were invented --- oddly appropriate, given that he served at Bikini Atoll.)

    2. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: I want one

      I half-want one, too.

      Let's hope they do the right thing and release a v2 model with proper Bluetooth security. (Sadly, I expect that a firmware upgrade for the ones already shipped will be well beyond their capabilities, however.)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So......Bluetooth in the news.....poor programming, poor security......

    Link: https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2021/12/22/ellume_home_covid_test_cracked/

    *

    ......why am I not surprised?

  7. Dynamite
    Trollface

    Fisher Price security

    At least when someone now says that an item has Fisher Price levels of security we have a valid reference that we can link to when proving the point....

  8. Blofeld's Cat
    Childcatcher

    Hmm ...

    "Thank you for calling the Fisher Price Chatter help line:

    For sales, dial 1, for support, dial 2, to hear a duck quack, dial 9"

    1. Ben Trabetere

      Re: Hmm ...

      "For sales, dial 1...."

      At least this phone has a dial. A few years back I asked my millennial nephews why people are asked to "dial" a telephone phone. Their response was a facial expression only a cow would understand.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Hmm ...

        I took my kids to Amberley museum about 12 years ago. They have an internal phone system and exchange. Anyway, I ended up having to show them how to use the dial phones.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Hmm ...

        Someone who actually founded a virtual telecom operator a decade back had apparently never encountered rotary dial phones, or even seen someone operate one in a movie.

        "Yes, you stick your finger in the hole with the right digit, then you ROTATE the dial until your finger hits the stop, after which you let go of the dial which will rotate back. Just sticking your finger in and poking doesn't achieve anything."

        1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

          Re: Hmm ...

          I was at a friend's party a few years back, and the neighbors showed up. We thought they might have been concerned about the noise but they joined the party.

          Then they asked about the phone mounted to the wall, said they'd never seen one and wanted to make a call (to their cell phone) on it.

          "So, you've never seen a rotary phone?"

          "No, I've never seen a landline."

          I suppose it's likely true; stores may have a landline going to the building, but then would have it hooked to a portable phone base and be using the DECT cordless phones with it. Made me feel a bit old though!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmm ...

            "Made me feel a bit old though!"

            A neighbour's boys were showing off their new skills badges from Cubs. They don't appear to issue one for knowing how to use "Button A" and "Button B" in a public phone box.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm ...

          ""Yes, you stick your finger in the hole with the right digit, [...]"

          In the voice of Bob Newhart.

  9. xyz123

    I wonder if this links to fisherPrice Advanced External Dialling Organization?

    "Mommy wants you to give us the credit card number from her purse. No don't tell her. It'll be a surprise!"

  10. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Devil

    I so want this

    not for myself but for the alledged production engineer sitting opposite me

    Sneak over while hes off for a day, pair it with his smartphone, then replace his desk phone.... and let the mischief begin.....

    Damn sure the boss will see the funny side of making him use a fisher price toy phone... as will anyone else..

    1. Falmari Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: I so want this

      @Boris the Cockroach "I so want this" so do I but for the opposite reasons.

      I want it for myself paired to my mobile on my desk as I am damn sure my boss would not see the funny side of it. ;)

  11. heyrick Silver badge

    I find it amusing that everybody is complaining about the Bluetooth security...

    ...when they're about to hand a child a device that permits them to make and receive calls. Shouldn't that be what really sets alarm bells ringing?

    (on the other hand, it would be great for adults who would enjoy trolling cow-orkers)

  12. Great Bu

    Hilarious moralizing...as if

    You're not all on the internet right now ordering one for your desk at work. I know I am......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hilarious moralizing...as if

      Yes but If I got one it would be for me and not a child.

  13. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Dial-up

    I like the look of it, especially that old 'Strowger-compatible' dial they've put on it, instead of those nasty modern button things. (But then I'm a reactionary old git.)

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: Dial-up

      I'll bet it's not actually Strowger-compatible, clicks and whirrs and all, however. And it does look a bit weird with the extra * and # keys snuck on the end of the dial, that we never had in the olden days! At least it is a rotary dial, though, and not just push-buttons in the appropriate places on a non-moving "dial", as I have seen on some faux-retro phones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dial-up

        I think we can be virtually certain that it's not pulse-dial capable.

        (Chances are that unless it was in a museum you've never used an actual Strowger-type switch. If you're old enough you may have used a crossbar, but I'm over 50 and the first 1ESS was deployed before I was born, the vast majority of Strowgers were long gone.)

        1. Mark Ruit

          Re: Dial-up

          This old git has not only seen Strowger "in the field", but stood there in the room watching it do its stuff. Not to mention watching a Post Office (sic) engineer working on one section and explaining to me the clever tricks which routed the call to an Operator when "0" was dialled or to an Emengey Opertor when "999" was dialled. In those days,any call outside a local area had to be manually routed. (Some of the "local"areas - like the London Director Service) were quite large, but ours was something betwen 10 miles ant the closest and 17 miles at most, IRC.)

          But then I am also (just) old enough to rember being in a house where the phone had no dial and all the local connection/routing was done by a human operator in a back room at the local Post Office...

          1. First Light Silver badge

            Re: Dial-up

            Which aforementioned operator then listened in to every call and knew everyone's business . . .

            1. handle handle

              Re: Dial-up

              > Which aforementioned operator then listened in to every call and knew everyone's business . . .

              Like nobody's listening now?

          2. Mr. V. Meldrew

            Re: Dial-up

            Quite true.

            As a kid I built a telephone exchange in the garden shed, Strowger pre-2000 type. Mum and Dad were less than impressed as their lawn mower and garden implements were exposed to the elements. I won't go into the stand by generator I constructed, just in case of power cuts.

            We were connected to Morecambe Telephone Exchange (manual in 1973, with operators and no dial). We were on a "party line" - no not that type of party.

            We shared the line with a neighbour off the same pole. To make a call you picked up the 'phone and listened to see if the other party were in conversation. If they were then one "should replace the receiver" and try later.

            Needless to say as an inquisitive 14 year old I listened to Miss Warrington chatting about the price of corned beef to anybody who would listen to her. So I guess Fisher Price could market the toy as a "Party Line" and get away with it.

            Come the 6th November 1974 at precisely 1.00 PM (dull Wednesday afternoon) the operators put through their last calls. We never heard from Miss. Warrington again.

            All we got was a purring sound.....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Dial-up

              BBC TV iPlayer has a Timeshift programme about the UK landline history. Well worth watching for the engineers' anecdotes - including a particular party line.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Dial-up

                There's also Tim Hunkin's The Secret Life of Machines series, which featured the Telephone in one programme. I recall the episodes were once on the web, but the last I checked was nearly 15 years ago.

                I believe it covered why Strowger (who was actually an undertaker) invented an automatic switching system: he was losing business to a rival whose wife was a telephone operator.

                1. heyrick Silver badge

                  Re: Dial-up

                  That brings back memories - the Secret Life Of series.

                  From the man himself, updated and remastered to not look like a crappy VHS recording: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGrpLw1W3P1_BC4J-Hpytww

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                    Re: Dial-up

                    Actually, I think these are the original original sources, also apparently provided by the man himself. And I think this is the site where I first encountered them.

                    https://www.secretlifeofmachines.com

                    And the videos appear to be mirrored:

                    https://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/SLOM/

  14. Conundrum1885

    Not so much MITM

    as KITM.

    In this case, getting the unsuspecting youngling(s) to type in a code into someone's laptop, or other nefarious activities.

    The possibilites are endless!

    Molly Guard won't work if someone can simply read back the code off the back of the router, or press the WPS button when asked.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    How serious is this really?

    What class BT is it using? If Class 1, with 100metre range, it's a serious issue. If Class 2 or 3, not so much for most homes/families. On the other hand, it's still a serious faux pas on Fisher Prices part.

  16. DS999 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    It can actually make phone calls?

    Yeesh, why not give it a display so it can FaceTime too...

    I hope Fisher Price doesn't have the same person who made this design a toy gun for them or we'll be in real trouble!

  17. ovation1357

    Security problems aside I just find it really sad that children's toys are now almost invariably made of flimsy plastic and are not built to last.

    My kids still play with some of my wife's old toys which are almost bomb proof, some of which were already hand-me-downs in the early 80s so they're easily over 40 years old.

    I was truly stunned by this Twitter thread https://twitter.com/Foone/status/1454230585933631488?t=26v95n--FxciXetRjMFugg&s=07 recently, where the writer does a tear-down of a new version of the old fisher price record player.. It beggars belief that they have abandoned a really simple Clockwork music box in favour of a crappy little electronic speaker and fake music box sounds coming off a chip, of course immediately requiring batteries to function.

    What's truly amazing is the big reveal at the end which shows how they've achieved a clockwork mechanism to make the fake plastic records turn.

    I've just wrapped a BBC branded cuddly toy which has a sound box in it and comes with a warning on the box that the batteries have an estimated 6 month lifespan based on occasional use and are not replaceable!

    I feel like there should be strict laws about this - if the manufacture really feels it necessary to put risky functionally such as Bluetooth into a child's toy then it should be compliant with a minimum set of safety and security standards (although I can't help thinking that a dumb toy would be a better idea), and non replaceable batteries should be illegal.

    Needless to say: Challenge accepted! I may well find myself unstitching the toy and replacing the batteries just to stick two fingers up at them.. A bit like my recent repair job on a Christmas 'robot' biscuit tin from Debenhams which my wife loves. Not only did that practically require a can opener to reach the circuit but the 3x LR44 batteries had been riveted to the board for good measure!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A few years ago I bought some cheap plastic drinking glasses that have multi-coloured LEDs in the bottom. They light up when there is liquid in the glass. A surprise was the simple instructions on how to change the CR2032 coin battery in the base. Had expected it to be sealed permanently into the base.

  18. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    Meh

    OK, so it's slightly insecure, but it's a kid's toy, not a banking terminal. If memory serves, the old $15 walkie-talkies were also completely insecure, yet civilization continued on in spite of millions of kids calling in air strikes, X-Wings, and artillery barrages on an insecure channel. It's a kid's toy, don't be so serious.

  19. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Kindergarten Security

    Calling Fisher-Price's security kindergarten is overstating it. It's at toddler level.

  20. NXM

    Points away for security (lack of) but I can understand why they did this.

    I make Bluetooth enabled equipment, and getting customers to understand how you pair things is really difficult. That's partly because every single computer's Bluetooth stack can be subtly different so we have trouble doing a step-by-step guide. For eg some Win10 installations on our computers have different ways of making it work, and one won't work at all for no very good reason.

    The only way we've been able to make it simple for people is to provide a pre-paired dongle.

  21. TRT Silver badge

    The resemblance between...

    Fisher Price activity centre and many modern websites can surely not be a coincidence?

  22. spireite Silver badge

    Why....

    As I trudge through my 6th decade, I look at the millenials and younger....

    ... and I think, I remember when childhood taught them values, imagination, the need to work for/achieve something

    As those have been ripped from the childs grasp, it's little wonder that the youth of today predominantly is made of of grown up sparrow hatchlings, unable to do anything for itself.....

    Where's that asteroid? Instead of diverting it away, can we divert it here? We need a reboot.

    1. martyn.hare
      Angel

      Millennials are doing way better, Gen Z will be better still!

      We can and do know how to handle config.sys, autoexec.bat and totally understand what ibmbio.com and ibmdos.com are for. The difference is that we decided to create tools to free the world from mundanity and complex implementation details.

      That’s why we’re the generation which works from home doing as little as possible to earn as much as possible. Why work harder when you can work smarter? I pity the Gen X’ers which put “independence” ahead of living a happy and comfortable life. They were had. The last generation sold their souls for a life of wage slavery on the promise of a great retirement, while we work comfortably knowing retirement is nature’s biggest illusion anyway.

      …and Gen Z? They will likely inherit the 4 day working week and extra holidays for “mental health days” and I say all the more power to them. The great resignation over in the states is just a warning of changes to come. Hard work will be a thing of the past and rightfully so.

  23. Teal Bee

    The difference of course is that walkie-talkies were't transmitting unless you held a physical button down.

    They were also less likely to end up paired to an adult's phone, where private conversations may be taking place.

  24. Clausewitz 4.0 Bronze badge
    Devil

    2 Bluetooths

    Some child toys come equipped with 2 blue-tooths.

    Remove one, analyze, sell it, wait some days to close scars.

    Remove the second, do the same.

  25. martinusher Silver badge

    A spot of perspective

    I figure that given that its likely to be used sporadically at a person't home because its a novelty item. Because of this I figure that if anyone's going to the trouble of bugging this phone then I've got more problems than an insecure Blutetooth connection between this unit and my mobile.

    If you need secure phone calls then you need a secure phone. Common sense.

    1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Re: A spot of perspective

      But (maybe I'm wrong) it sounds like it can be paired, then sends audio even when it's on-hook. I would object to having it permanently bugging the room it's in (... permanently until the battery runs out at least.)

  26. spold Silver badge

    Woof!

    I want one for the neighbors and their annoying dog.... Take it over.... Woof woof woof! Send it into a frenzy ;-) Walkies! You want a treat?! Squirrel Squirrel! The possibilities are endless.

    p.s. a long while ago a few friends and I were walking past a house where one of those little yappy dogs was having a woof attack in the window, we all woofed back like crazy and the thing was going nuts - was slightly embarrassing when the little old lady appeared at the window wondering what on earth was going on.....

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Woof!

      I have few natural talent -- I can't sing, I can't dance and so on. But.....I can do a very convincing imitation of a dog bark. I can stop dogs -- at least ones that don't know me -- dead in their tracks because "there's some damn dog around here but I can neither see nor smell it".

      Judiciously applied it can be a lot of fun.

      Incidentally, I really like dogs. A bark isn't just a random noise that dogs make, its a bona fide communication. Dogs are experts at reading humans and devising ways to communicate with them. You can communicate back just as effectively provided you remember that you're talking to a dog so the intellectual level's not going to be that great (think "human toddler").

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No security needed -- we make toys

    In another life, a colleague attending the original Zigbee meetings informed me that a large toy manufacturer insisted on a no-security option. Why? Because we make toys!

  28. Sleep deprived

    The device [...] thankfully, was only available in the USA

    Are you implying no villains are to hack this toy in the USA, or that the USA is doomed no matter what?

  29. jason_derp

    Only sold in the US?

    Those folks are used to having everything recorded by this point. Security flaws are rebranded as "convenience" features. Almost a non-story, nobody will ever notice. There will be two or five stories about some creepy stuff happening with the device, but you'd get those whether it was full of smartphone parts or was just a solid hunk of plastic. Maybe a YouTube video where the eyes look at the camera without anybody noticing somehow as the kid is using it. Meh.

  30. adam payne

    The post states that the Chatter uses Bluetooth classic without secure pairing, which means it agrees to any pairing request.

    No secure pairing *sigh*

  31. Luiz Abdala
    Facepalm

    Kidnapping deterrent?

    I can only see it as a kidnapping deterrent, where you get locked up with an infant and you take it with you with the sole purpose of entertaining the child.

    Then you entertain the police with your whereabouts.

    Even so, it would be a convoluted way to make it work, with a real phone stashed near you, already paired with it.

  32. Lotaresco

    It Cheers Up My Day

    ... To see yet another interest exploit by Pen Test Partners. They put effort into searching out weaknesses in consumer products and, if you get to meet them, are very nice guys too.

  33. Lotaresco

    Where's the harm?

    Well... Pen Test Partners previously reported on the "My Friend Cayla" doll and other similar devices. Cayla was not marketed as a Bluetooth phone but did contain a Bluetooth headset with insecure pairing. They showed that it was possible for an attacker to access the headset and then to have "private" conversations with the child. It doesn't take much thinking to realise that this is the sort of thing (access to a child without parental supervision) that would be of interest to the most reviled sex offenders. The absolute lack of concern from Genesis the manufacturer of Cayla was shockingly complacent. The CEO stated "Cayla was basically the subject of a tech prank," and then refused to consider improving security of the doll. In consequence the German Federal Network Agency instructed parents to destroy the dolls as it constitutes a concealed espionage device which is illegal in Germany. The Fisher Price telephone will also be illegal in Germany for the same reason.

    In the UK and USA the government don't seem to care if someone tries to groom your kids remotely.

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