Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

The new “Hello Barbie,” continues to make the news as privacy advocates are concerned about its features. Barbie connects to Wi-Fi and records children’s voice commands. Those commands are sent to an external server to improve voice command tech. the creepiness is in the fact that it’s getting to know children on a very personal level.

The Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood view the new Barbie as the start of a new trend in marketing privacy children.

Imagine your children playing with a Wi-Fi-connected doll that records their conversations–and then transmits them to a corporation which analyzes every word to learn “all of [the child’s] likes and dislikes.” That’s exactly what Mattel’s eavesdropping “Hello Barbie” will do if it is released this fall, as planned. But we can stop it!

Kids using “Hello Barbie”‘ won’t only be talking to a doll, they’ll be talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial. It’s creepy—and creates a host of dangers for children and families.

Children naturally reveal a lot about themselves when they play. In Mattel’s demo, Barbie asks many questions that encourage kids to share information about their interests, their families, and more—information advertisers can use to market unfairly to children.

Mattel said security and privacy is their top priority in creating a Barbie that learns from its owner.

Mattel and ToyTalk, the San Francisco-based start-up that created the technology used in the doll, say the privacy and security of the technology have been their top priority. “Mattel is committed to safety and security, and Hello Barbie conforms to applicable government standards,” Mattel said in a statement.

How many top executives and politicians’ children will be running around with this doll? What happens when a child tells the doll about issues going on in the house? Will that be a HIPAA violation or will the police be notified? Children don’t understand the legal implications of talking to a doll who saves everything they say.

The problem they are not addressing is that they will be recording the conversations of children. Children do not have a fully functioning filter to know what they should and should not be talking about to what is a stranger. They don’t know who will be listening to them or what is going to happen with those conversations.

Children also have a habit of telling their dolls, stuffed animals and figurines confidential stuff they do not wish to share with anyone else. We don’t need some mysterious cloud service cataloging this information on a child.

This is yet another example of surveillance microphones attempting to get their foot in the door to our homes. We already have to be leery of Xbox Kinect, Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV and everything else listed in the Internet of Things.

How long before Barbie becomes Talky Tina?

flattr this!

Momentum is building to #RejectFear and stop theHarper Conservative’s reckless, vague and unnecessary ‘Secret Police’ bill before they can rush it into law.

We’ve got a plan to stop this bill from passing without major changes and proper oversight – and it starts with making sure that people from all across Canada see a new video that shows just how high the stakes are.


flattr this!


flattr this!

Sending an email message is like sending a postcard, says scientist Andy Yen in this thought-provoking talk: Anyone can read it. Yet encryption, the technology that protects the privacy of email communication, does exist. It’s just that until now it has been difficult to install and a hassle to use. Showing a demo of an email program he designed with colleagues at CERN, Yen argues that encryption can be made simple to the point of becoming the default option, providing true email privacy to all.


flattr this!


a glut of companies are lurking in the shadows of the Internet, gathering your data to sell it to anyone who’s willing to pay the price. These so-called “data brokers” can easily follow your digital trail by using your browser cookies and other ingenious tracking methods.

And it’s not just general statistics, demographics, or overall trends that they’re selling. Many data brokers sell dossiers on individuals, complete profiles that include your name and personal information, without your knowledge or consent. These dossiers can include sensitive information such as medical history, political and religious affiliations, and sexual orientation.

There are no regulations for companies such as these. If you want to keep your personal data private and not let anonymous companies bid over it, you have to take matters into your own hands to block their efforts.


flattr this!