Hello Hello Hello Barbie

Privacy advocates criticize new ‘Hello Barbie’ doll with wi-fi microphone By Martha Neil Mar 13, 2015, 02:00 pm CDT http://www.abajournal.com 

A new Mattel prototype of an iconic toy anticipates that “Hello Barbie” will soon be able to talk with children as they play with the doll. Pressing a button will turn on the microphone and connect the toy to wi-fi.

The problem is, the same voice-recognition software that enables the doll to “learn” and respond specifically to the child’s comments with details such as the name of the family pet is also transmitting to a third party, via the Internet, detailed information about the child’s thoughts and interests, privacy advocates say. Some are seeking a ban on the doll, which is scheduled to arrive on store shelves in the fall, reports the Washington Post (reg. req.).

“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,” says Angela Campbell of Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology.

Privacy advocates’ new enemy: Barbie By Marcus Gilmer on March 13, 2015 11:00 AM blog.sfgate.com 

Gimler posted the following on his blog: The Campaign For a Commercial-Free Childhood has posted a petition to prevent the toy (with a suggested retail price of $74.99) from hitting shelves as planned this fall. They note ToyTalk’s current privacy policy, which notes that the company “may use, store, process and transcribe Recordings in order to provide and maintain the Service, to perform, test or improve speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, or for other research and development and data analysis purposes.”

ToyTalk’s privacy policy states the company won’t use any recordings to reach out to those children and outlines that only people over the age of 13 will be able to set up accounts on the doll. Jacob insists that parents will be able to receive emailed updates about all of the sound files their child shares with the doll. Still, the CCFC remains skeptical, saying, “that won’t necessarily protect children from exploitation.”

My first thought is to be wary – I don’t even like the fact that sometimes certain cell phones can record w/o your knowledge. It’s too Orwellian; Big Brother is everywhere.

My second thought is why do adults feel they have to barge into children at play to make it more real or a learning opportunity? Children have been having conversations with dolls since the beginning of time unaided by technology! Words between friends do not need to be recorded, validated or made ‘real’ by adults. Stop trampling imagination!!!