“Hello Barbie” Needs to be Goodbye Barbie

Mattel-Hello-Barbie-2

In the Fall, the plan is for Mattel to relesae “Hello Barbie“, which is a Barbie doll that listens to children speak (via microphone on her belt buckle) and she responds. Wifi enabled, 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.

This whole thing sounds creepy. Barbie is basically eavesdropping on conversations from your child and in your house. ToyTalk, which works in collabroation with Mattel to enable the voice recognition claims that the audio files collected will only be used to further improve “Hello Barbie” but the concern is that the audio files will be used to subtly introduce your child to other Barbie products and to listen in on children’s private conversations. ToyTalk is trying to ensure parents that “Hello Barbie” will only work with parent permission, but once parents register and agree to its use then who know what happens with that information. Mattel is stating that they need parental permission to access the files and the information will not be used for marketing but who really knows. The one nice thing is that parents will be able to choose to receive the audio files daily or weekly. On the other hand, is that a violation of privacy to your child’s most private thoughts?

After 56 years, Mattel is struggling and they are introducing “Hello Barbie” as a way to connect technology with Barbie seeing as how most toys are going in that direction. I am the way of the naysayers and do not like the idea of “Hello Barbie.” I definitely will never buy this for my daughter, I do not want her conversations recorded. It just seems so wrong.

Click here to sign the petition by CCFC (Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood) to stop Mattel from releasing “Hello Barbie.”