A creepy data collecting doll named “Hello Barbie” is due to hit stores in a few months – unless the work of privacy rights groups can stop it.
The new interactive Barbie is raising the ire of people concerned about the doll’s ability to store endless amounts of personal information in order to have spontaneous conversations with its young handlers.
Toymaker, Mattel utilized WiFi and speech recognition technology so the doll can transmit a child’s voice to giant servers where the speech is then processed and stored.
A Mattel representative showed off the new technology at a New York Toy Fair. She demonstrated how the doll “remembers” and “plays games.”
The rep excitedly explained how all the content given to the doll is stored in the “cloud” so that new data can be pushed to Hello Barbie and keep her updated and “relevant.”
“She’s going to get to know all my likes and all my dislikes and then incorporate that into our conversations,” the rep told her audience.
Not everyone is impressed with the doll that’s being dubbed in some circles as “Eavesdropping Barbie” and a petition has been formed urging Mattel to dump the product.
Susan Linn, executive director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said the toy will exploit children, according to McClathy DC.
“Kids using “Hello Barbie’ aren’t’ only talking to a doll, they are talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial,” she said.
She called the doll, “creepy” and “dangerous.”
Matell is defending their latest invention and says the data collecting doll was inspired by girls who have for decades been requesting a chance to have a “real conversation” with the toy icon.
Now that Mattel can grant the wishes of little girls around the world, high-tech advances will take the place of children’s imaginative conversations.
Mattel maintains there is nothing to worry about and that collected information will be safeguarded from “unauthorized users.”
Privacy rights advocates aren’t buying it.
“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,” said Angela Campbell of the Center on Privacy and Technology at the Georgetown University said in a statement.
Hello Barbie is set to hit store shelves in autumn 2015 for $74.99.
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