Eek! Hello Barbie Can Record All Of Your Convos

BarbieMedia.com
Oh, Mattel. In an attempt to spark plummeting sales, the company recently unveiled its Hello Barbie prototype in the Mattel showroom at the North American International Toy Fair. In a move straight from Life-Size, the new Internet-connected Barbie comes with voice-recognition software so it can "'listen' to children speak and give chatty responses," reports The Washington Post.

Excuse me?  The microphone embedded in the doll is turned on by a button, and then any data it records while listening is sent to a Mattel server for processing. The company claims this will allow the doll to "learn over time," but it's also uber-creepy.

"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," Angela Campbell, faculty adviser at Georgetown University's Center on Privacy and Technology, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Angela certainly has a point: Personal data about a child would be sent to a for-profit company that most likely wants to use it for commercial gain. Safety and security, however, are the biggest priority, Mattel said in a statement.

ToyTalk, the San Francisco-based company responsible for the doll's technology, told The Washington Post  parents will most likely have to create an account and give consent before the doll can record.

We get that kids are turning to technology younger and younger, but is this really the best way to interact with them? On Wednesday, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a petition to stop Mattel from releasing the doll entirely. And we certainly can't blame them. Remember the last time we had a talking Barbie scandal? In 1992, Teen Talk Barbie actually uttered the phrase, "Math class is tough." 

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