In honor of Women's History Month, do let's trash Mattel's new, creepy, eavesdropping, Wi-Fi-connected "Hello Barbie" - dubbed Soviet Snitch Barbie by skeptics in Europe - and fight for Maia Weinstock's new, teeny, inspired female SCOTUS justices in LEGO form. The company rejected them under their rule of "no politics or political symbols," but many want to see them made, and think they will. The notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg: "Dissents speak to a future age."
In George Orwell's 1984 you watched the TV and the TV watches you. In George Orwells day it was called Science Fiction.
Now, new televisions come with cameras and microphones built in. Essentially, they are computers. If allowed onto the the internet, they can be used as a web browser and may be used to hold a video chat with someone far across the globe. There is the potential for voice recognition. You will be able to give vocal commands to the TV, e.g. to change channels, and it wont matter too much if you lose your remote. But also, if allowed onto the internet, the software can be automatically upgraded. Not by you, of course. Not only is there a hypervisor to prevent that from happening, but there are some very serious laws to prevent you tampering with what you allegedly "own". (you dont think they would leave the 99% truly in charge of these computers) Not by you, but by them - remotely across the internet, without you having consented to it, at a time of thier choosing.
What could the newly upgraded software make the TV do, potentially? Well for a start, the new software sent to targeted television computers can use the cameras to watch, and it can listen in to conversations. It can send your conversations far across the internet by sending an encrypted stream, that only they can listen to.
Even though I have not even heard any evidence that this is happening, I am convinced that it must be happening. Why? Because the technology is in place that can do that. It is a gift bestowed on the powers that be. Why on earth would they not use it when it suits them? Its just that we have not yet had another Edward Snowden to reveal the fact that the CIA/NSA are using that.
Does your TV come with an ethernet socket? Does the menu let you connect to your WiFi? Are there special beneftis and advantages to doing so? E.g. for watching online moviess? participation in reality TV or surveys that will allow you to win a Barbie doll? Will you choose to take advantage of these exclusive benefits by connecting your TV to the internet?
So too with the PS3/PS4 and the XBOX Kinect. You may not run software of your choosing on these machines, but only software signed by Sony or Microsoft. In stark contrast, the software on the machines may be remotely upgraded without your consent to run whatever those in control on the other end want it to run. If you refuse to connect your games box to the internet, then you miss out on content.
So now we have a doll, with a microphone, that reports not only to Mattel, but to whoever requires the information from Mattel (e.g. NSA bulk data collection forced upon them by a secret court order, as has been well documented with Google,Yahho and Microsoft).
And here is ther kicker:- People gladly buy them. George Orwell, you did not know the half of it.
"dubbed Soviet Snitch Barbie"?? Is it the Soviets who are selling these dolls? Is it they that are doing the listening? Why would these european skeptics need to project the megalomania of the USA elite onto the "evil" Russians. Perhaps it should be dubbed "US Empire Snitch Barbie".
Excellent comment Braithwa. The primary reason for the switch from broadcast TV to cable TV was NOT to better serve* the consumer, it was to better monitor the consumer. The trend only accelerates with the computerization and networking of everything "smart".
[*Except in the sense of "To Serve Man": "It's a cookbook!"]