The popular Christmas toy “Elf of a Shelf” has landed on the American Civil Liberties Union’s naughty list this year.
Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, told the New York Times that the toy is normalizing the idea of surveillance.
“I know a lot of families just see this as a fun thing, but it’s worth thinking about the messages it’s giving to children about surveillance by authorities,” Stanley told the newspaper.
“Personally, I consider success as a parent to be teaching my kids to do the right thing even when nobody is watching, whether they be from the North Pole or anywhere else,” he continued.
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Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, agreed with Stanley’s take on the holiday tradition.
“I don’t want to sound like a Grinch, but we shouldn’t be celebrating seasonal surveillance,” Cahn said. “It’s really a terrible message for kids.”
Caitriona Fitzgerald, deputy director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, essentially said that the Elf toys are perverts.
Fitzgerald told the newspaper that “no one should be looking at you in your bedroom without consent.”
“I don’t want to be the first one to take Santa Claus to court for invasion of privacy, but consent matters, and having privacy matters,” he added.
The Lumistella Company who produces the elves argued that the toy is wholesome.
“Santa’s Scout Elves don’t just help to keep up with the Nice List; they also share with Santa how families are spreading the spirit of Christmas,” Lumistella said in a statement to the newspaper.
“Many children note that their favorite moments throughout each season include waking up to see where the family’s Scout Elf has landed and the humorous scenes they sometimes set up. Our hope is that the Elf on the Shelf will create cheerful holiday moments and precious family memories that will last a lifetime.”