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“Hello Barbie”, a New Doll With Big Brother-ish Capabilities

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Hello Barbie will be available in stores right in time for the holidays. A campaign entitled “Hell No Barbie” however seeks to inform consumers that this doll has the potential to severely violate their privacy.

In an attempt to revitalize its Barbie brand, Mattel will soon launch Hello Barbie, a Wi-Fi-connected doll with artificial intelligence. The doll “talks” to children by recording what they say and responding accordingly. All of the children’s interactions with the doll are recorded using a microphone and are sent to a remote server through Wi-Fi. The recorded voices are then interpreted by an algorithm in order to generate an appropriate response. While some might find this innovation fun and interesting, others see in this toy a big-brotherish nightmare: It is programmed to ask personal questions to little girls, record their answers (and everything else the mic picks up) and then transmits the information to a remote location.

Even the promotional video found on the Hello Barbie website (which is meant to sell the doll) cannot help but going into creepy territory as it enumerates the numerous steps required to activate the doll : Downloading an app on a smartphone, creating an account using an e-mail address, connecting the doll to the home’s Wi-Fi network, etc. In short, well-meaning parents are actually taken through the steps required to turn this toy into a highly effective spy device that can pinpoint, with exact accuracy, who said what, at what time and where to then store all of that information on remote databases.

Hello Barbie makes conversation using voice recognition technology.

When her microphone is turned on, the doll records its playmate’s voice. The child’s dialogue then travels over the internet to a server, which interprets it so Barbie can give a tailored, pre-recorded response. It’s similar to the way Apple’s interactive Siri works.

“Hello Barbie can interact uniquely with each child … sharing stories and even telling jokes!” explains the toymaker Mattel in an online ad.

Golin and his co-campaigners worry about hackers infiltrating children’s dialogue, which will be stored on a server. They also dislike that the recorded conversations will be monitored at times to improve the system.

“Having people listen to recordings [of children] talking intimately to a doll raises a whole host of questions,” said Golin.

A big concern is that information gleaned from conversations might be used for marketing purposes.

“Clearly this is going to be a trove of valuable information when you have a child talking perhaps for hours with a doll,” said Golin.

He also worries that Hello Barbie could be programmed to push products. “Mattel may be cutting deals for what products the doll is talking about,” he said.
– CBC, ‘Hell No Barbie’ campaign targets Hello Barbie over privacy concerns

Although Mattel guarantees that it won’t use the information collected for commercial purposes (to push other Mattel products), it is not guaranteeing full privacy neither. As I pointed out in my first article about Hello Barbie, the privacy policy of Toy Talk (the subdivision that handles Hello Barbie) states :

What Information Do We Share With Third Parties?

We will not share the personal information we collect through the Service with third parties, except as described in this Policy. For example, we may share personal information as follows:

(…)

when we believe in good faith that we are lawfully authorized or required to do so or that doing so is reasonably necessary or appropriate to (a) comply with any law or legal processes or respond to lawful requests or legal authorities, including responding to lawful subpoenas, warrants, or court orders;

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

The above provision is quite open-ended and dangerous as the information recorded by the doll could be sent to authorities, governments and other entities – if “required to”.

Hell No Barbie

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) plans to launch a “Hell No Barbie” campaign on social media and its website, warning parents and children to keep their distance from the doll.

“This is kind of the perfect storm of a bad toy,” said Josh Golin, the group’s executive director.

His organization argues the Wi-Fi connected doll — which is equipped with a tiny microphone — could act as a double agent, passing on personal information shared by your child for marketing research or nefarious purposes.

Some parents are also suspicious of the toy. “Hello Barbie is pretty creepy and it would not be welcome in our house,” said Windsor, Ont., parent Mindy Terrington.

(…)

Golin and his co-campaigners worry about hackers infiltrating children’s dialogue, which will be stored on a server. They also dislike that the recorded conversations will be monitored at times to improve the system.

“Having people listen to recordings [of children] talking intimately to a doll raises a whole host of questions,” said Golin.

A big concern is that information gleaned from conversations might be used for marketing purposes.

“Clearly this is going to be a trove of valuable information when you have a child talking perhaps for hours with a doll,” said Golin.
– Ibid.

Considering the fact that the NSA actively spies on nearly 100% of citizen communications, isn’t it obvious that the information collected by this doll could easily end up in the same databases?

If you value your privacy and do not want your children to be monitored by faceless entities, you definitely need to say Hell No Barbie.

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Alison

sorry everyone but this is really no different than your iPhone, which someone can turn into a remote listening device at any time, and even see you through your camera. this is still super creepy though.

Pest

They made another one? Not surprised that stuff like that would sell well. Most parents are lazy and need something to keep their kids quit.
Also noticed how easy people are fooled. Most people would not want to have cameras installed in their house, but if the cameras are designed like something cute or cool and with some "amazing" commercial of "how awesome" it is to have it, you will be surprised how many people would buy it. We have seen it with Jibo, Ulo, Video game consoles and those Barbies.
No matter how "cute" or "cool" it looks like, I'm not going to bring stuff like that home.

BluBoy

This just adds to the trans-humanism agenda that VC has been mentioning for years and it also reminds me of the new Samsung TV's (I think it's Samsung) that can record your conversations even while its turned off and sends the data off…….Where it gets sent to?….God only knows.

DarkStarAz

ORWELLIAN DOUBLESPEAK?
"We will not share the personal information we collect through the service" "we may share personal information as follows…"

Mariam

I've looked for comments online, what people thought about it & thank God most people were negative towards the idea & find the doll creepy. So that's a good thing, for once the masses aren't brainwashed.

ZSJ

Even the article missed this: the wording says "…if lawfully authorized, or…" "Lawfully authorized"… to share with a third party? Of course Mattel is 'lawfully authorized' to do that — with anyone. You agreed by use the wifi doll, and that agreement gives them full right. The laws *do not* currently say that personal information cannot be used for advertising and 'affiliates' (once consent is given)…. so there is no protection of privacy here.

fleurdamour

I've said this here before but it bears repeating, Barbie is based on a German prostitute doll called Bild Lilli originally sold in men's novelty shops in Germany in the 50s and 60s.

The Barbie industrial complex already messes with girls' body image, now it wants to mess with their minds and feelings, too.

sascha

I got a bad feeling that this is just the beginning of what's to come. Remember the last Bilderberg meeting? One of the topics there was Artificial Intelligence. I see A.I. popping up everywhere now. The next year they will really be pushing this. The movie A.I. becoming real right now!!

Free Your Mind

Also at the Bilderburg 2014 meeting, on the agenda, "Does Privacy Exist?"

sascha

I wonder what results came out of it 🙂

sue

I used to talk to my dolls and probably told them things I wanted to keep secret – they were my 'best' friends as I was an only child in a bad family situation. would not want those things recorded

dewmanthy

that is strange , now your feelings would be recorded and known to authorities.

dewmanthy

Excellent technique start with children and when they grow up they wont object because they would be used to it.

KMD

Hey girls, don't tell Barbie your parents have guns in the house.

Zaina

I seriously wouldnt want my oldest niece having something like this.If she did I'd sell it on ebay in a heartbeat!
It's terrible how this world is coming to things like this when little girls talk to dolls instead of family or friends.My biggest fear is little girls are going to talk about their problems to these dolls instead of their parents and "THEY" hear these problems and make new toys for them!I remember a commercial about a diary you can talk to instead of writing your thoughts down yourself and im afraid the toys are going to be just like that in the future.Also its conditioning these kids to be even more anti social than ever!

Sharon

Why would anyone buy this???

TeamJesus

Pretty creepy because you never know what other hidden technology the doll might have…. motion sensor, hidden camera, fingerprint scanning, etc. Nope… no thanks. Seems like a girl version of a chucky doll to me. too creepy, potentially dangerous & invasive….

Stormy

This doll needs a good soak in a water bucket, only then can any kid play with it … in a house with no wifi and pre-paid flip-phones. Yes, I am feeling generous…

anon

If you don't want the NSA to be listening in on your conversations then you have to put your phone in the fridge. Not turn it off. Put it in the fridge. They are always capable of recording you, even when turned off.

Stormy

or in a laundry room while washing machines are on…

ElReptiliano

Just take the battery off, and put it back when you need use it.
The cellphone without battery can't connect to the cell towers so they can't triangulate your position

fleurdamour

NSA aside, this sets off my pedophile alarm.

Lilly

I agree the fact that a statement was made in regards to speaking to a doll intimately I instantly thought of a creepy old man or woman listening to children making it a sick situation

a few lines

Sick Psychopats with no emphaty nor humanity left are running this insane planet. Entirley consumed by pride, wickedness, ego and greed which makes them projecting their own darkness and bad intentions into others. Their subconcious fear (=ego) must be borderless which is why they desperately are in need to dominate, control and manipulate everyone and everything. Makes you wonder what it is what ultimatively causes their fear.

Momo

This is crazy we're never safe anywhere even in our own house. It's even scarier that it's marketed to such young people. #sick

unafraidoftheculture

Gross. Only utterly stupid parents would buy this. Sorry, but it's true. Technology could be (and is) so incredible for so many things but the spying on everyone, including children, is evil and depressing. I don't have kids but it must genuinely be difficult to raise them in this culture of iPhones, tablets, Facebook, Netflix, etc. All of these electronics, social media, etc. have really taken over. (sighs)

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