Critics: High-Tech ‘Talking’ Barbie Could Eavesdrop On Kids

Critics: High-Tech ‘Talking’ Barbie Could Eavesdrop On Kids

Great, this is exactly what we need in our homes…

With the NSA and the IRS ruthlessly invading our rights to privacy, the last thing we need is Barbie telling on us as well. According to a report from Yahoo News, a new “talking” Barbie may soon be able to eavesdrop on households across America.

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That’s right, Barbie is going high-tech! Not only will your child be able to dress her up and talk to her, but the doll is now able to respond thanks to Wi-Fi and voice recognition technology.

“The No. 1 request we receive from girls globally is to have a conversation with Barbie, and with Hello Barbie we are making that request a reality,” Stephanie Cota, Mattel’s senior vice president of global communications, said in a statement.

Here’s how it works: Your child pushes a button to chat, and Barbie will “listen” through an embedded microphone. She then sends the audio to a cloud-based server, operated by Mattel’s technology partner ToyTalk, which then records the speech and processes it. Then Barbie responds to the question or comment.

Privacy advocates and parents have dubbed the doll “Eavesdropping Barbie” and are concerned about their children’s conversations being recorded and stored.

Faculty adviser Angela Campbell from Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology said in a statement, “If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child’s intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed. In Mattel’s demo, Barbie asks many questions that would elicit a great deal of information about a child, her interests, and her family. This information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children.”

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched an online petition on Wednesday to stop Mattel from releasing the doll. The petition already has more than 3,000 signatures.

“Kids using ‘Hello Barbie’ aren’t only talking to a doll, they are talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial,” Susan Linn, CCFC’s director, said in a statement. “It’s creepy — and creates a host of dangers for children and families.”

As of now, Hello Barbie is scheduled to hit store shelves this fall.

As we hurl ever forward down the path of bold technological advances, we should take time to stop and think about the potential for misuse in man’s creations.

It’s like these people have never seen a Terminator film…

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