July 31, 2015

Hello Barbie…Adiós Privacy?


First 5 LA - www.first6la.org

By: Richard Moxley

Imagine a doll that can have a real conversation with your daughter by understanding her words and responding intelligently. Imagine also that the doll’s manufacturer can capture, store and use information it gathers from these interactive doll conversations – who she is, what she likes and who her family members are – to target messages back to her.

No need to imagine; here’s the real-world prototype: Mattel’s “Hello Barbie,” whose upcoming launch is igniting child advocates to mobilize against its release. Beyond privacy concerns are larger brain and social development concerns, experts say.

“Hello Barbie records the innocent, playful and trusted encounters between the child and doll, and relays the recordings via Wi-Fi to the Cloud for the corporate giant to apply algorithms that turn Barbie into an Internet-enabled digital device,” cautioned Donna Rice Hughes, CEO and President of Enough Is Enough®, a nonprofit striving to make the Internet safer for children and families. “Barbie comes to life with child-specific and micro-tailored conversation and questions that can manipulate a child’s innocent and intimate communications with Barbie. A girl’s relationship and friendship with her Barbie dolls should be treated with the utmost privacy and care.”  Read the entire article here.