A few months ago, a new toy was released that made my ten-year-old a little wistful for her younger years. She thinks she’s too old for it, but Mattel’s new Barbie Video Girl certainly caught her attention.
Perhaps you’ve seen it? She looks like a normal Barbie except for the fact that she’s got a real working video camera in her chest and a screen on her back. How cool is that?
According to the FBI, not cool at all. In a leaked memo linked at Jezebel, the FBI warns that this seemingly harmless toy could be a threat to children.
So, what could Barbie possibly have done to warrant that kind of warning? It’s the video camera, of course. In the wrong hands, it could be used to surreptitiously record child pornography.
A reviewer at Tech Crunch seems to have been the first to grasp the nefarious possibilities of a video camera hidden in a doll. In a video rant posted on the site last summer, Paul Carr goes off, saying the doll is “child abuse waiting to happen.”
Now, Carr is a little hysterical and seems to be playing up the danger for laughs (he refers to the USB port on Barbie’s back as a “tramp stamp”), but the FBI apparently agrees with him. In a Cyber Crime Alert memo dated November 30, the FBI field office in Sacramento warns that Barbie Video Girl could be used as a “possible child pornography production method.”
That’s all the FBI has to say on the matter, but toymaker Mattel has responded in a statement to Washington television station NWCN.
The FBI is not reporting that anything has happened. Steve Dupre from the FBI Sacramento field office has confirmed there have been no incidents of this doll being used as anything other than its intent. Mattel products are designed with children and their best interests in mind. Many of Mattel’s employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety – it is our number one priority.
In that same article at NWCN, a grandfather is quoted as saying that the doll “frightens” him and that he would never give one to his 6-year-old granddaughter.
Okay, I can see how a pedophile might buy one of these dolls and try to use it to lure in and secretly record little girls. But unless you’ve got a pedophile living in your house, I don’t see what there is to be frightened of. Am I missing something?
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