In December 2015, a class action lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in Los Angeles against Mattel and ToyTalk by parents looking for injunctive relief and money damages for Defendants’ inherently dangerous product (Hello Barbie) and unlawful and negligent collection, use, and distribution of minors’ personal information.
“Hello Barbie” is an artificial intelligence-enabled fashion doll designed to engage in conversation with children, record conversations, collect and store in a cloud database.
In order to connect with Hello Barbie, the user must download an application to a smartphone and create an account with ToyTalk. This account provides the user with the ability to play, share, or delete the audio recordings produced by the doll. After registering the doll, an email is generated to the user that requests permission to allow the speech processing services in the doll to be operable.
According to MatteI, “Hello Barbie complies with COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act 15 U.S.C §6501 et seq.) and is certified as such by KidSafe+, a COPPA Safe Harbor provider.
However, Plaintiffs note that children that have not been registered interact with the doll and activate its technological functionalities. Therefore, the Internet-enabled doll would be incapable of satisfying the requirements of COPPA and kidSAFE’ s, despite ToyTalk and MatteI’s false and misleading representation. According to Plaintiffs, ToyTalk and MatteI have a duty to “take all reasonable measures to protect the personal information they collect from children”.
Plaintiffs propose the following questions of law for certification in California and nationally:
- whether Defendants failed to satisfy the requirements of COPPA;
- whether Defendants’ conduct is an unlawful business act or practice within the meaning of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq.;
- whether Defendants have collected, used, or maintained recordings of children under 13 whose parents have not consented;
- whether Defendants failed to reasonably prevent or detect recordings of children under 13 whose parents have not consented;
- whether recordings of children under 13 whose parents have not consented have bee shared or sold to third parties by Defendants;
- whether Defendants failed to notify affected individuals that their children had been recorded without their consent;
- whether Defendants notified purchasers that they may only use the doll outside the presence of other children under 13;
- whether Defendants’ conduct violated the causes of action herein alleged;
- whether, as a result of Defendants’ conduct in this case, Plaintiffs have suffered ascertainable loss; and
- whether Plaintiffs are entitled to monetary damages and/or other remedies, and, if so, the nature of any such relief.
In addition, Plaintiffs propose other causes of action, which include:
- violation of the California Unfair Competition Law (UCL) by manufacturing and selling “Hello Barbie” in alleged violation of the COPPA;
- negligence, since Defendants failed to take reasonable measures to prevent collection, storage, or sharing of non-consensual recordings of children under thirteen;
- unjust enrichment, since Defendants enriched at the expenses of Plaintiffs when they shouldn’t have;
- invasion of privacy through audio recordings of children without parental consent;
Ashley Archer-Hayes, et al. v. Toytalk Inc., et al., Case No. BC603467, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles is available at http://www.coppanow.com…
For more information, Francesca Giannoni-Crystal