Hello Barbie Accused of Privacy Violations
Of particular concern is that Hello Barbie doll stores conversations between children and the doll on a cloud. Some worry that personal information from the doll could very easily be hacked. Such a data breach recently occurred at VTech, where personal information (including photographs) of 6.3 million adults and children was leaked.
The doll uses technology similar to Apple Siri to have conversations with children.
Hello Barbie, which costs around $75 and comes pre-programmed with more than 8,000 recorded lines, was named one of the worst toys of the year by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, who described the doll as a threat to “children’s privacy, wellbeing, and creativity.”
Two California moms, Ashley Archer-Hayes and Charity Johnson, have filed a lawsuit against Mattel after their children were recorded by a friend’s Hello Barbie at a party. They are particularly critical of the fact that hackers could gain access to the toy and use it to converse with children. Their attorney, Michael Kelly, suggests these sorts of hacks are “easy.”
“It’s interactive, so if someone hacks into the server they could technically take over and ask questions like ‘Where do you live?’ or ‘Is anybody home?’” Kelly tells The Daily Beast. “You’re not dealing with competent adults, you’re dealing with vulnerable little kids.”
Mattel’s partner, ToyTalk, defended the toy to The Daily Beast. “Hello Barbie is certified as-COPPA compliant by kidSAFE, a children’s privacy certification program approved by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.”