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?