Mattel’s New ‘Eavesdropping’ WiFi Barbie Arouses Privacy Concerns, ‘Seriously Creepy’

Check In Barbie

The Doll records children’s speech with an embedded microphone and sends it over the web

An advocacy group protested on Wednesday a so-called “eavesdropping” Barbie, which records creepy-barbiechildren’s speech and sends that data over the Web.

Calling the Barbie “creepy,” Camapign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a petition Wednesday urging the doll’s maker, Mattel to stop the doll from being sold, the Washington Post reports.

The Doll records children’s speech with an embedded microphone and sends it over the web, which leaves kids vulnerable to stealth advertising tactics, the group said.

[See more in the Washington Post]

Chief executive Oren Jacob of ToyTalk, the San Francisco-based startup that created the technology in the doll, told the Journal that the captured audio files is “never used for anything to do with marketing or publicity or any of that stuff. Not at all.” Instead, the technology is used to improve speech recognition, Jacob said.

Children press a button to chat with Hello Barbie, which “listens” to their speech and sends the audio recording over a WiFi connection to ToyTalk’s cloud-based servers, where that speech is recognized and processed. The Barbie can then make a response….(read more)

barbie3

“Eavesdropping Barbie” could easily lead to more troubling edtions of the popular toy. Next: ‘Serial Killer Barbie”?

TIME


Illustrata Publica Virtus: Millions and Millions of Public Domain Images Being Put Online

publica-mincemeat

From Techdirt‘s Mike Masnick:

Here’s some nice news. Kalev Leetaru has been liberating a ton of public domain images from books and putting them all on Flickr. He’s been going through Internet Archive scans of old, public domain books, isolating the images, and turning them into individual images. Because, while the books and images are all public domain, very few of the images have been separated from the books and released in a digital format.

1875-independence-commemoration

To achieve his goal, Mr Leetaru wrote his own software to work around the way the books had originally been digitised. 

The Internet Archive had used an optical character recognition (OCR) program to analyse each of its 600 million scanned pages in order to convert the image of each word into searchable text. 

As part of the process, the software recognised which parts of a page were pictures in order to discard them.  Read the rest of this entry »