Mattel Privacy Violations Class Action Filed over Hello Barbie

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Santa Clara, CA: Mattel is facing a proposed privacy violations class action alleging the toy maker' new interactive doll, "Hello Barbie", violates children's privacy laws by recording their conversations with the doll without proper consent.

According to the lawsuit, named plaintiffs Ashley Archer-Hayes and Charity Johnson claim Mattel Inc. and interactive toy technology maker ToyTalk Inc. violate Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by recording children' voices during their conversations with the doll and storing them online without obtaining sufficient consent. The women also filed suit against kidSAFE, a seal-of-approval program that certified the doll as COPPA-compliant.

According to court documents, in December of this year Archer-Hayes bought "Hello Barbie"for her daughter. She registered it online and downloaded a smartphone app that would allow her to listen to, review and delete recordings the Barbie doll transmits to ToyTalk's servers. However, several days later her daughter and her friends, one of whom is Johnson' daughter, played with the toy at a Barbie-themed party, which recorded the voices of other children whose parents hadn't consented to its use.

"Defendants knew or should have known that the 'Hello Barbie' doll, a toy directed at children six-years-old and over, would be used in the presence of and by children under thirteen, other than the child-owner of the doll," the complaint states, "[and that] there was a great likelihood, if not a certainty, that in sharing and playing with the 'Hello Barbie' doll, children under the age of thirteen, other than the child-owner, would be recorded and such recording would be transmitted to ToyTalk's cloud database for collection, maintenance, and use."

According to the proposed suit, four classes of plaintiffs are proposed, specifically : Californians who have purchased the dolls for their children; Californians whose children's voices were recorded without their consent; and nationwide classes in similar circumstances.

According to information on Mattel' website, "Hello Barbie"is programmed with about 8,000 lines of kid-friendly dialogue, plays 20 games. The doll costs about $75. The doll records voices when kids press on its belt buckle and transmits them over Wi-Fi, the website says.

The suit alleges negligence, unjust enrichment, invasion of privacy and violations of California's Unfair Competition Law, and it seeks unspecified damages.

The plaintiffs are represented by Steven W. Teppler of Abbott Law Group PA, Michael Louis Kelly, Behram V. Parekh, Heather Baker Dobbs and Justin M. Keller of Kirtland & Packard LLP, Michael W. Sobol of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, Richard D. McCune of McCuneWright LLP and attorney Briana Kim. The case is Ashley Archer-Hayes et al. v. Toytalk Inc. et al., case number BC603467, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

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