Mattel asked to scrap Wi-Fi mic Barbie after privacy concerns, which sends recordings of children’s voices over the internet for voice-recognition analysis.
“Hello Barbie” can be connected to Wi-Fi and uses a microphone embedded in Barbie’s belt buckle to record children’s voices and transmit them to cloud servers where they can be stored for up to two years. Mattel’s tech partner called ToyTalk specialise in speech recognition with pre-programmed responses to key words or phrases with the aim of kids feelig like Barbie is “responding” to them.
The real security issue says Linn, is that Mattel will now have the ability to “listen in” on kids at play. “It’s corporate surveillance in the home and exploiting kids who are most vulnerable ”
Mattel executives and tech partner ToyTalk — rejected the statement above saying:
“Mattel is committed to safety and security, and Hello Barbie conforms to applicable government standards, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” Cota says. Also, she notes, Hello Barbie’s technology features safeguards “to ensure that stored data is secure and can’t be accessed by unauthorized users.”
All of Barbie’s “responses” will be pre-written, says Oren Jacob, CEO of ToyTalk. “She only says things back that we’ve written for her to say.”
The company does require parental permission to use the audio recordings to improve its future products and to improve speech recognition — but not for marketing of any type, Jacob says. “Parents will be “100% in control of their family data,” he says.