Child advocates want toymaker Mattel to pull the plug on a new interactive Barbie doll that records children’s voices and uploads them to a cloud server.
The Hello Barbie doll – expected to arrive in stores this fall – uses WiFi to hold two-way conversations by “listening” to a child’s words and responding appropriately.
In a videotaped demonstration of the doll at the New York Toy Fair last month, a saleswoman chatted with Barbie about New York City. “I love New York, don’t you?” Barbie gushes. “Tell me, what’s your favorite part about the city?”
When the saleswoman says she enjoys Italian restaurants, Barbie says, “You have to take me to try it!”
Susan Linn, executive director of the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, says the doll is “creepy” and “dangerous.” The group is calling on Mattel to stop all production and marketing of Hello Barbie…
Mattel says Hello Barbie was developed in response to the wishes of girls from around the world, whose top request was to be able to have a conversation with Barbie.
Hello Barbie conforms to government standards and employs safeguards to protect children’s data from access by “unauthorized users,” Mattel said in a statement.
The last thing I have any confidence in is United States government standards about creepiness and privacy.