Launched last month, Hello Barbie hides an intricate mechanism behind a doll's face. A built-in microphone records everything the child talks to her, so that it can then be broadcast via Wi-Fi to a computer, where the words will be encrypted into a code for transmission to a cloud server. A program is installed on the server that decrypts the received code and sends back a response - a reaction to the replica sent by Barbie.
This toy is a real miracle, but there is one catch, which is how legal it is to record and then keep records of the conversations of children with the doll.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which went into effect in April 2000 in the states, sets out strict rules for obtaining information in this way. When it comes to children under 13 years old, the collection of data is allowed only with the consent of the parents, who should be aware of what information was received. Or, in this case, the information can be processed by the server to create a response replica, but its further storage is not allowed.
The executive director of ToyTalk manufacturing company said that the toy meets all the requirements of the legislative act, and that all the company's products are tested by KidSAFE +. He also clarified that all responses are created manually by the development team, and all recordings of conversations coming to the server are strictly confidential information, not intended for use for advertising or marketing purposes.
Hello Barbie isn't the only spy toy. There are known cases of creating news Samsung SmartTVs, information for which was obtained through listening, another example is voice recordings that were made by the Xbox Kinect.
It's not just a matter of violating someone's rights. Members of the Child Commerce Coalition have collected signatures in a petition to discontinue a toy that they believe may collect data for commercial research or advertising purposes. The indignation of people is understandable - after all, this is some kind of invasion of privacy. However, the appearance of Barbie, giving out remarks is not accidental, but meaningful, cannot be called too much of a surprise, given the modern pace of development of technology in all spheres of life.