thoughts and observations of a privacy, security and internet researcher, activist, and policy advisor

Monday, November 05, 2007

Keysigning Parties with Barbie Dolls

This is too ridiculous:

Sally brings her Barbie Girl over to her friend Tiffany's house, and sets it in Tiffany's docking station -- which is plugged into a USB port on Tiffany's PC. Mattel's (Windows only) software apparently reads some sort of globally unique identifier embedded in Sally's Barbie Girl, and authenticates Sally as one of Tiffany's Best Friends. Now when Sally gets home, the two can talk in Secret B Chat. (If Sally's parents can't afford the gadget, then she has no business calling herself Tiffany's best friend.)

And what is the added value of doing this? Believe it or not: The Barbie owners can then exclusively use Mattel's chat system Secret B that limits their expression to a white list of approved words. Oh yes, and as all these dolls seem to have a globally unique identifyer, Mattel can probably track who is chatting, when, and with whom (the authentication software is proprietary and runs only on Windows).

Who on earth still believes that todays' kids don't know how to use standard IM and social networking software?

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