Ahead of Christmas, the FBI has issued a "cyber crime alert" for a new Barbie doll that doubles as a video camera, warning the toy could be used by pedophiles to make child pornography.
In an alert entitled "Barbie 'Video Girl' a Possible Child Pornography Production Method," the FBI said the doll has a built-in hidden camera in the chest and a small LCD screen for video display in her back.
The doll's camera can capture 30 minutes of footage, and the video can be downloaded and streamed live to a computer, but there is no indication it can be streamed directly to the Internet, the FBI alert said.
The FBI "cyber crime alert" doesn't cite any misuse of the doll, which sells for $ 49.99, has been on the market since July, but talks about the possibility.
"FBI investigation has revealed instances where an individual convicted of distributing child pornography had given a Barbie doll to a 6 year old girl," CNN quoted the alert as saying.
"The possibility of the combination of these two in a single device presents a concern for investigators," said the FBI alert, dated November 30.
"Law enforcement is encouraged to be aware of unconventional avenues for possible production and possession of child pornography, such as the Barbie Video Girl," it said.
The notice is written for law agencies only, but someone at the FBI mistakenly sent it to media outlets in Seattle, said special agent Steve Dupre of the FBI's Sacramento, California, office, which distributed the notice.
"It was an inadvertent dissemination of the document," Dupre said. "There have been no reported incidents of this doll being used as anything other than as intended."
Meanwhile, some parents have expressed concern about the doll after the FBI alert.
"That plays into these people who prey upon our children's ideals. It frightens me," William Porres, a grandfather, said. He said he will not buy the doll for his 6 -year-old granddaughter.
"Oh, she would love it, but she's more important to me than a giggle on Christmas morning," Porres said.
Mattel Inc., the toymaker issued a statement, saying child safety is its priority.
"Mattel products are designed with children and their best interests in mind," the company said.
"Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves, and we understand the importance of child safety," it said.