Commentary

Mattel Axes Connected Device For Kids

Faced with pushback from advocacy groups and lawmakers, Mattel reportedly has decided against releasing Aristotle, a connected device for children.

The gadget, often referred to as Alexa for kids, was touted as both baby monitor and voice-controlled computer. It was intended to stay in children's bedrooms from birth through adolescence.

Advocacy groups were alarmed by the WiFi-enabled device, arguing that it would subject kids to unwelcome surveillance. "Aristotle isn’t a nanny, it’s an intruder," reads a petition authored by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood in July. Children’s bedrooms should be free of corporate snooping."

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The group argued that Aristotle would collect and store data about children's activity, which potentially could be used for ad targeting. This week, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and The Story of Stuff Project said that more than 15,000 people signed a petition asking Mattel not to release Aristotle.

Also this week, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) questioned Mattel CEO Margaret Georgiadias about the device, saying it "has the potential to raise serious privacy concerns."

"It appears that never before has a device had the capability to so intimately look into the life of a child," the lawmakers said in a letter to Georgiadias.

Mattel hasn't yet responded to MediaPost's questions, but the company told the Washington Post that Aristotle didn't "fully align" with a new technology strategy. The Post also reported that new Chief Technology Officer Sven Gerjets, who joined the company in July, decided against selling the device.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood cheered news of the decision. “This is a tremendous victory for everyone who believes children still have a right to privacy and that essential caregiving functions should never be outsourced to robots," 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.”

1 comment about "Mattel Axes Connected Device For Kids".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 6, 2017 at 10:57 a.m.

    They added up what the lawsuits would costs when they get sued. Yeah, it's about money. There are no internet safeguards.

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