Amazon sued over Alexa child recordings in US

Andrew Cummings
June 17, 2019

Two lawsuits filed this week claim Amazon's Echo Dot Kids records children's voices without consent, the Seattle Times reported.

The legal action, according to a New York Post report, also claims the voice assistant is in violation of eight state statutes relating to allowable oral communication recordings with consent of participating persons.

In a statement provided to Yahoo Finance, by email, an Amazon spokesperson said, "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". After that, workers around the world will listen to the voice recording and create voiceprints of users, which will be used to identify the users when they are speaking to another device in another location.

Alexa works by routing these recordings to Amazon servers, and the lawsuits state that - even though the process is more financially demanding for the company - these recordings should be processed locally into a digital format.

"Alexa routinely records and voiceprints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents", one of the complaints states.

A plaintiff in a California state lawsuit is 8 years old, while a plaintiff in a Washington state lawsuit is 10. "Neither the children nor their parents have consented to the children's interactions being permanently recorded".

Last month, Amazon also created a subscription service which assisted parents in how to use Alexa, a point they have reiterated to journalists. In addition, it says, they can contact the firm and request the deletion of their child's voice profile and any personal information associated with it.

However, he acknowledged that Amazon could do more to flag that people - rather than just automated checks - were involved in reviewing the recordings.

"So if you don't that, then we do do not keep any of the data for the child and we wouldn't ever do that".

Amazon announced in January of this year that more than 100 million Alexa devices have been sold worldwide. Other technologies store these recordings for only a short time or do not record them at all.

Amazon Echo speaker. Source: Getty Images.

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