How Barbie Brought Attention to Securing the Internet of Things
December 31, 2015
This article describes the release of the Hello Barbie doll and the aftermath that churned with concerns about hacking, privacy and Big Brother spying on children. This is the version of the doll capable of engaging in two-way conversation over a WiFi network (and companion app), with up to 8,000 lines of dialog to choose from. Children can ask Barbie questions, participate in co-created stories, and engage in conversations on a wide variety of topics. And since it can connect to the Internet, it has become a target for hackers.
We’ve written about the Internet of Things (IOTH) here in the past. What’s interesting about this article is that the legitmate security concerns raised by all those cheap inter-connected chips have until just recently been debated only among information technology professionals. But bring in Barbie and somebody’s children and you’ve now gotten a motivated slice of the citizenry (parents) involved and aware. At the most recent membership meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information Julie Brill, a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, gave the closing keynote. In the Q&A the longest exchange was devoted to privacy and security concerns associated with the IOTH. The FTC report Internet of Things: Privacy and Security in a Connected World (press release) is worth a look. The executive summary may be enough (pdf). (Michalko)