Amazon sued over child recordings by Alexa

Amazon are being sued following allegations that Alexa has been recording children without consent.

Two class action lawsuits were filed in courts in Seattle and Los Angeles on Tuesday, for two plaintiffs, alleging that the firm have not been obtaining consent before creating voiceprints that could keep track of children using Alexa, which in turn leads to the build up of a “vast level of detail about the child’s life”.

 The two plaintiffs are an eight-year-old boy and a 10-year-old-girl who both have said had utilised Alexa to tell jokes, play music, solve problems and much more. Both the parents have stated they had not agreed for their child’s voice to be recorded before their children interacted with Alexa.  

The lawsuits allege:

“At no point does Amazon warn unregistered users that it is creating persistent voice recordings of their Alexa interactions, let alone obtain their consent to do so. 

“Neither the children not the parents have consented to the children’s interactions being permanently recorded.”

The practice violates the laws of Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington which do not allow the recording of oral communications without the consent of all parties.

In response Amazon referred the public to a post published last month discussing FreeTime.

“FreeTime on Alexa voice recordings are retained to enable parents to review and listen to their children’s interactions with Alexa, to improve the child’s experience, and to improve our Alexa and FreeTime services. 

“Parents can review and delete the voice recordings at any time in the Alexa App or on our website. Parents can also contact Customer Service to request deletion of their child’s profile and personal information associated with their child’s profile (including voice recordings).”

The lawsuits against Amazon wrote that the state’s consent law acknowledge the privacy implications of recording someone’s voice.

It added:

“It takes no great leap of imagination to be concerned that Amazon is developing voiceprints for millions of children that could allow the company (and potentially governments) to track a child’s use of Alexa-enabled devices in multiple locations and match those uses with a vast level of detail about the child’s life, ranging from private questions they have asked Alexa to the products they have used in their home.” 

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