Sunday, December 5, 2010
FBI issues warning over Barbie 'Video Girl' which could be used by paedophiles to make child pornography
Parents are being warned that a new Barbie doll that features a built-in video camera could be used as a tool by paedophiles to make child pornography.
The Barbie 'Video Girl', which is on sale in the UK and the U.S., has a hidden camera in the chest and a small LCD screen video display in her back.
A 'cyber crime alert' from the FBI has said the doll, which went on sale in July, could be used to record footage used for distribution by paedophiles.
It said: 'FBI investigation has revealed instances where an individual convicted of distributing child pornography had given a Barbie doll to a six-year-old girl.
The document went on to cite the findings of another investigation which found 'examples where a concealed video camera had recorded child pornography'.
That camera did not involve a doll, FBI agent Frederick Gutt said, but the possible combination of the two in a single device presents concerns for investigators.
There have been no recorded incidents of paedophiles using the Barbie 'Video Girl' to prey on young children.
The alert adds: 'Law enforcement is encouraged to be aware of unconventional avenues for possible production and possession of child pornography, such as the Barbie Video Girl.'
Video Girl can capture up to 30 minutes of footage and the video can be downloaded and streamed live to a computer. There is no indication it can be streamed directly to the internet.
The alert was written in the U.S. for law agencies only, but was mistakenly sent to media outlets in Seattle.
Agent Steve Dupre told CNN: 'It was an inadvertent dissemination of the document.
'There have been no reported incidents of this doll being used as anything other than as intended.'
William Porress, from Tacoma, Washington, said he would not buy one of the dolls for his six-year-old granddaughter.
'That plays into these people who prey upon our children's ideals. It frightens me.
'Oh, she would love it, but she's more important to me than a giggle on Christmas morning.'
A statement from Mattel Inc, which makes the doll, said: 'The FBI is not reporting that anything has happened.
Steve Dupre from the FBI Sacramento field office has confirmed there have been no incidents of this doll being used as anything other than its intent.
'Mattel products are designed with children and their best interests in mind. Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety - it is our number one priority.'
The Barbie doll, which costs $49.99 (£32), is aimed at children six and above and has been nominated for the 2011 Toy of the Year Award.