FBI warns of Barbie doll's sinister potential

The FBI has warned its agents to look out for Barbie dolls fitted with video cameras which could be used to produce child pornography.

The 49.99 dollar (32) toy is proving popular with youngsters and the agency stressed it has not been linked with any reported crimes.

But that did not prevent it issuing an advisory notice warning officers not to overlook Mattel's "Barbie Video Girl" during any searches.

The FBI said today that "the alert's intent was to ensure law enforcement agencies were aware that the doll - like any other video-capable equipment - could contain evidence and to not disregard such an

item during a search."

The doll has an LCD screen on its back and shoots video from Barbie's perspective through a lens hidden in the doll's necklace. It can be connected by a USB cable to a TV or computer and records up to 30 minutes of footage.

Makers Mattel said child safety was the company's priority.

"Mattel products are designed with children and their best interests in mind," it said. "Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves, and we understand the importance of child safety."

Gerrick Johnson, a toy industry analyst, said the camera doll was popular with both boys and girls.

Media attention "is starting to build, but I really hope it doesn't," he said. "I think it is a very clever product, kids like making videos and uploading things to the computer."

Another industry analyst Jim Silver said the controversy has been overblown.

"It's a doll, for Pete's sake," he said.

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