A leaked FBI crime alert suggests that Mattel's newest Barbie doll, who has a video camera-disguised-as-a-necklace built into her chest, could be used by pedophiles to lure in young victims and then surreptitiously record child pornography. Though the FBI alert did clarify that they are not aware of any incidents involving the doll, this warning has encouraged a bit of panic along with questions of actual danger. Geraldo Rivera and CNN both had Video Girl Barbie on their show to demonstrate her features and call her creepy, urging parental caution.
Though mostly in agreement that the concept as well as the design of the doll might be a bit strange, not everyone is convinced that Video Girl Barbie creates more of a danger to children than already exists. "I was certainly stricken by the new Surveillance Barbie sporting a digital vidcam in her cleavage, but I hadn't thought of the doll as a potential tool for pedophiles," wrote David Pescovitz at Boing Boing after hearing the news. Unimpressed by the FBI's logic that the Barbie might become a predator's new tool simply because dolls and video cameras have been used by pedophiles to coerce and film young children, Gawker's Adrian Chen comments that "Video barbie is like the Reese's Peanut Butter cup of child predators." Paul Carr at TechCrunch, on the other hand, boasted that he had labeled the Barbie, "child abuse waiting to happen" when he first saw it months ago.
In order to understand the real risk involved in this hot new holiday item, Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon consulted a former FBI agent for child sex crimes who left her with the impression that "you can blame Barbie for many things--glorifying an impossible waist-to-hip ratio, say--but child pornography is not one of them." Inactive pedophiles are unlikely to become motivated by Video Girl Barbie, if not by all of the other technology at their disposal. Rather, Clark-Flory predicts that "based on the nature of my childhood play with Barbie and Ken, I'd say it's even more likely that the plastic pair will soon have their very own sex tape scandal."
This video compares the quality of Barbie's video camera with a Canon 7D.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.