Barbie, the Internet of Things and what they mean for your privacy

Barbie, the Internet of Things and what they mean for your privacy

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

02 March 2015

Barbie and the Internet of Things might not, at first, seem to have that much in common, but one news story brought them together in a whole new way last week.

Mattel have just announced a new wi-fi enabled doll, Hello Barbie, which will record your children and send that information off to a database in order for Barbie to speak back to your child – which is terrifying in more ways than just the obvious Bride of Chucky one.

The dolls will interact by recalling previous talks, listening and replying – that is, they will access the database of interactions via wi-fi to figure out what the child is saying, then will response in an appropriate way. This will necessitate the recording of children while they’re playing with Hello Barbie.

How does this tie into the Internet of Things, and why is it so scary?

The Internet of Things is the industry term for the ever-expanding network of physical objects embedded with electronics, allowing them to exchange data with the manufacturer or operator. This includes cell phones, heart-monitoring implants, biochips – and now Barbie.

There has been a lot of discussion in general about the Internet of Things and its potentially negative effects on our privacy; if so many things can record our data, how can we possibly hope to retain any control over that?

Those already spooked by this will be even more worried about the Internet of Things expanding into the playrooms of their children – and with good reason too.

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