Hello Barbie, which just hit stores in time for the holiday season, has long wavy hair and 8,000 lines of preprogrammed dialogue. She’s WiFi-enabled, and when a kid holds down her belt buckle, a microphone hidden in her necklace records what is said and transmits it to computer servers, where the audio file is converted into text, and then analyzed. Hello Barbie remembers all kinds of things, from favorite colors to a death in the family. And as Mary Emily O’Hara explains for The Daily Dot, that has parents and privacy advocates freaking out.
There are worries abusive parents will use it to spy on their kids. (They can access the data Hello Barbie collects.) But, judging by the examples of sensitive information a child might inadvertently spill listed by The Daily Dot, the fear is not as much that kids will tell too many secrets about themselves, but that they’ll say too much about their parents. The story suggests Hello Barbie could be used in custody battles, that the doll “could pick up background snippets of adult conversation,” that a kid might reveal “they are HIV positive, or that a parent is ill,” and so on.