Mattel’s latest doll, “Hello Barbie,” due to be on store shelves this fall, is under attack from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). The American advocacy group claims Hello Barbie may be a corporate spy that could jeopardize children’s privacy. The concept of the Hello Barbie doll would be to record what the kids say to them and respond accordingly. The children’s interactions with the doll are recorded using a microphone and sent to a remote server through Wi-Fi to get interpreted by an algorithm in order to generate an appropriate response. The group argues the Wi-Fi connected doll could act as a double agent, passing on personal information shared by your child for marketing research.
While the Hello Barbie are set to be available in stores this December, a campaign entitled “Hell No Barbie” has started, so as to inform consumers that this doll has the potential to severely violate their privacy and can be dangerous for the child as well. Though many finds the toy’s concept innovative, fun and interesting, there are others to whom it seems big-brotherish and a nightmare as the toy would have the capability to ask personal questions to little kids and then record their answers. There are some who are worried that the mic will pick up everything else that is spoken in that area and then transmit the information to a remote location. To make matters worse for Barbie, even the promotional video
launched by the company seems rather creepy as it explains numerous steps that is required to activate the doll, like Downloading an app on a smartphone, creating an account using an e-mail address and connecting the doll to the home’s Wi-Fi network.
The above concern which only grows double with the fact that although Mattel guarantees that it won’t use the information collected for commercial purposes it is not guaranteeing full privacy either
and that the required information can be sent to local authorities, governments and other entities, if “required to.”