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Toymaker 'Loses Bottle' over Ethics of Aristotle

October 6 2017

Toymaker Mattel has reportedly cancelled the launch of another connected device aimed at children. 'Aristotle' was designed to collect and store data about children's activity, acting as both baby monitor and voice-controlled computer.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts...According to www.mediapost.com , the WiFi-enabled device was intended to stay in children's bedrooms 'from birth through adolescence', but alarmed advocacy groups who depicted it as a surveillance device, and seemingly a Trojan horse for ad targeting. According to the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, 'Children’s bedrooms should be free of corporate snooping'.

Faced with a public petition and with a letter to Mattel CEO Margaret Georgiadias raising 'serious privacy concerns' from Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the company apparently dropped plans for the launch and told the Washington Post that the device didn't 'fully align' with its new technology strategy. New CTO Sven Gerjets may also have played a major part in the decision after joining in July.

The Campaign's Executive Director Josh Golin stated: 'The backlash against Aristotle should send a strong message to other toymakers and tech companies with plans for their own surveillance devices for young children'.

The old philosopher (pictured) follows in illustrious footsteps - and we don't mean Plato or Socrates. Two and a half years ago, DRNO reported that Mattel had developed 'a new Internet-connected Barbie, which listens and responds to children who talk to her via Wi-Fi and voice-recognition technology, records resulting conversations, and sends data to a team of researchers to be analyzed'.

Web sites: www.commercialfreechildhood.org and www.mattel.com .

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