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Tue Mar 17, 2015, 11:45 AM

Alarming new Barbie stores kids' conversations

Print headline:

She's a creepy girl in a creepy world

Privacy advocates try to keep 'creepy,' 'eavesdropping' Hello Barbie from hitting shelves

By Sarah Halzack March 11
@sarahhalzack



Hello Barbie is displayed at the Mattel showroom at the North American International Toy Fair. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

At a recent New York toy fair, a Mattel representative introduced the newest version of Barbie by saying: "Welcome to New York, Barbie." ... The doll, named Hello Barbie, responded: "I love New York! Don't you? Tell me, what's your favorite part about the city? The food, fashion or the sights?"

To revive the sinking sales of its flagship brand, Mattel is bringing Barbie to life with voice-recognition software that will allow the doll to "listen" to children speak and give chatty responses. It will learn over time, remembering your dog's name and adjusting to new topics.

This WiFi-connected Barbie may soon be a hit among children used to tinkering with iPads, but children's privacy advocates are crying foul. Hello Barbie may be more accurately called "eavesdropping" Barbie, says one advocacy group. Another popular description? Creepy. ... Hello Barbie works by recording a child's voice with an embedded microphone that is triggered by pressing a button on the doll. As the doll "listens," audio recordings travel over the Web to a server where the snippets of speech are recognized and processed. That information is used to help form Hello Barbie's responses.

"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.

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Reply Alarming new Barbie stores kids' conversations (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Mar 2015 OP
upaloopa Mar 2015 #1

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Mar 17, 2015, 11:49 AM

1. Then don't buy the doll.

I think parents still have that decision making capability or did we engineer that out of parenthood?

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