Lawsuits Go After Amazon Alexa For Recording Kids Without Consent

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Amazon is being sued for recording and storing the voices of children without their or their parents’ consent.

A pair of lawsuits filed this week claim the company fails to get consent from kids when it records them using its voice assistant. One plaintiff in the California state lawsuit is 8 years old, while another plaintiff in the Washington state lawsuit is 10. In both cases, their parents brought the cases forward on the children's behalf.

"Alexa routinely records and voiceprints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents," the California suit states. "This practice violates California law, which prohibits the recording of oral communications without the consent of all parties to the communication."

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These lawsuits could make it particularly difficult for Amazon as it markets its Alexa speakers. The company recently updated its Echo Dot Kids Edition, which was designed specifically for children.

The suits also follow a request from children's advocates last month that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the Echo Dot Kids Edition. The advocates claim the device is collecting sensitive data on children that parents cannot delete, which the advocates say violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. However, Amazon had previously declared that the device does comply with COPPA requirements.

Also, last year, the Mozilla Foundation, called on Amazon to provide more specific information on how it uses children's data collected through the Echo Dot Kids Edition.

"Amazon has a longstanding commitment to preserving the trust of our customers and their families, and we have strict measures and protocols in place to protect their security and privacy," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "For customers with kids, we offer FreeTime on Alexa, a free service that provides parental controls and ways for families to learn and have fun together."

Via: MarketWatch

In the two new lawsuits, the parents had purchased Amazon Echo devices and installed them in their homes. The suits take issue with Amazon permanently storing audio recordings, which they say neither the children nor their parents consented to. Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant, Siri, is mentioned as less intrusive in how it records audio-- Siri stores recordings for a short period of time then deletes them.

While Amazon does allow users to delete their audio recordings, CNET reported last month that text transcripts of these records can still live on in Amazon's servers.

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