Thursday, March 19, 2015

Beauty and the Barbie Beast

"Big B̶r̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ Barbie Is Watching You"
Perverts Could Be Data Mining, Data Tracking and Data Trafficking Your Child 
Schools are not only targets of Big Marketing Snoopers invading your child's privacy. Reading the following article will begin to sound VERY familiar if you've been reading all the alerts that Anita Hoge has been posting on this blog the past few months. Start with the aptly-named article "Big B̶r̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ Barbie Is Watching You." The iconic Barbie doll has now gone high tech and will be spying on your child. Here is the article's summary of the problem:
Everyone remembers talking dolls that say a handful of pre-recorded phrases to the little kids who play with them. But now there is a new Mattel Barbie doll that have been talking talking back in a very different way… and sharing your conversations with total strangers.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood claims that the privacy policy for ToyTalk specifically states that they “may use, store, process and transcribe Recordings in order to provide and maintain the Service, to perform, test or improve speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, or for other research and development and data analysis purposes.”
The concern by the CCFC is related to a new product called Hello Barbie. While it has not yet been released ToyTalk states that using the doll requires parents to set up an account. By default, the doll will share data. Parents must deliberately opt out of this. [links removed, emphasis added]
(Video describing doll posted HERE)
Already, this sounds very familiar, doesn't it?! The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) also reported on it in their article titled "Hello Barbie, goodbye privacy? Why some are calling new doll 'creepy' (+video)," which explained why it is "creepy":
Renaming it "eavesdropping" Barbie, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a petition Wednesday urging Mattel to stop the doll from being sold, the Washington Post first reported.

The group's advocates call the technology "creepy," and say recording and storing information about children's likes, dislikes, interests, and more, leaves them vulnerable to hacking and stealth marketing.

"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. “In Mattel's demo, Barbie asks many questions that would elicit a great deal of information about a child, her interests, and her family. This information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children." 
[links removed, emphasis added]
The CSM article continues by describing how this clever and seductive dolly technology works:
Here's how it works: Children can press a button on Hello Barbie's belt to chat, Barbie “listens” to their speech and sends the audio recording over a WiFi connection to ToyTalk’s cloud-based servers, where the child's speech is recognized and processed. Barbie can then make an intelligent response. (Source)
If you think this is bad, read the following ominous quotes from The Register's article "Hello Barbie: Hang on, this Wi-Fi doll records your child's voice? What could possibly go wrong?":
The Hello Barbie doll is developed by San Francisco startup ToyTalk, which says it has more than $31m in funding from Greylock Partners, Charles River Ventures, Khosla Ventures, True Ventures and First Round Capital, and others.

Its Wi-Fi-connected Barbie toy has a microphone, a speaker, a small embedded computer with a battery that lasts about an hour, and Wi-Fi hardware. When you press a button on her belt buckle, Barbie wakes up, asks a question, and turns on its microphone while the switch is held down.

The child's replies are recorded, encoded, and sent in an encrypted form to ToyTalk's servers....

The doll is loaded up with scripts to read... the doll's backend software will know to talk about... giving the kid the impression that chatty Barbie's a good, listening friend.

Crucially, the recorded audio of children's voices (and whatever else happens to be going on around them when they push the buckle button) is kept on ToyTalk's computers.... [bold added]

"The doll is only at the prototype stage – just in time to be shown off at Toy Fair 2015 in New York – but is expected to be ready for Christmas, with a price tag in the area of $75." (Source)
There is additional creepy information about the doll divulged in an alert posted at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood titled "Stop Mattel’s "Hello Barbie" Eavesdropping Doll," Read the following quotation and then watch the two YouTube promotional videos that launched this doll:
Instead of encouraging the kind of creative play essential for a child's learning and development, “Hello Barbie" ensures that Mattel—not the child—drives the play. Mattel claims the toy will "deepen that relationship girls have with [Barbie]." Over time, the toy conglomerate’s goal is to have the child and Barbie "become like the best of friends."
 And here is the REALLY CREEPY part, cited in the CSM article:
But that smart technology is what worries privacy advocates. Already, in a demonstration for the BBC, a security researcher revealed hacking vulnerabilities in a similar Internet-connected doll, My Friend Cayla, when he showed how a skilled programmer could hack the doll to say creepy or inappropriate things to a child. [bold added] (Source)
OKAY, so someone is at the other end, pretending to be your child's friend, is listening in on your child and your family. And they could have their own sinister agenda. Doesn't that just send chills down your spine?!

And don't think for a moment that this isn't happening to your child in the public schools. Read the recent blog post about the BOSS app titled "BOSSES Need to be Fired!" and Dr. Pat Huff's article "New Jersey Superintendent Reveals Pearson Spying On Students." The information about the Barbie doll should raise questions about JUST WHO is at the other end of the assessment databanks spying on your child's emotional and physical health in the schools, and JUST WHAT sort of information they may be compiling, and for JUST WHAT sort of purpose!

Very alarming! 
Bring back Raggedy Ann!

It is definitely time for parents to wake up! Start asking the HARD questions before it is too late! And by all means don't fall for these outrageous marketing extravaganza gimmicks! Warn your friends about this creepy doll! Post this on your Facebook pages! Alert grandparents NOT to buy this doll!

For a compilation of Anita Hoge's alerts about data tracking and data trafficking of children, read the articles cited at the bottom of this post: "It Wasn't US!" 

For more information, read:
Preying on the Most Vulnerable
THEY are coming for your children. . . .
"Unbridled federal data collection of students"
Are we training pigeons or educating children?
THEY are coming for your babies. . . .