Published: Sun, May 12, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

FTC complaint: Amazon Echo Dot Kids illegally records conversations

FTC complaint: Amazon Echo Dot Kids illegally records conversations

Their own investigation found that Amazon violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) "in many ways".

Talking point: Amazon previously said the speaker would offer parental controls, be ad-free and block third-party sites like shopping and news.

The complaint claims those privacy policies are "unclear and confusing", not specifying what information is collected, how it's used, and who it's shared with.

Hawley and Markey, who was an author of COPPA, introduced a bill in March that would update the law by expanding its protections to 15-year-olds and mandate an "eraser button" that would allow parents to delete information collected about their children. They advertise having the technology to create voice profiles for customised user experiences but fail to use it to stop information collection from unrecognised children.

Reacting to the allegations, the e-commerce giant said it not only worked closely with organisations like the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) while developing Echo Dot Kids Edition but also followed industry's best practices for securing verifiable parental consent.

Mobile Nations senior editor Russell Holly and Jay Jacobs, head of research and strategy at Global X Funds, on the report that Amazon workers are listening to people's conversations with Alexa. This is a material omission likely to mislead reasonable parents.

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Amazon's direct notice does not satisfy COPPA's requirements as it is missing key pieces of information.

Amazon does not disclose which kid skills (developed by 3rd parties) collect child personal information or what they collect.

It also says that about 85% of the more than 2,000 games, quizzes and other Alexa "skills" aimed at kids did not have privacy policies posted.

The groups also released a video that shows a test of the device's "remember" feature. The letter was cosigned by senators Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri and Richard Durbin, A Democrat from IL.

"This suggests that Amazon has designed the Echo Dot Kids Edition so that it can never forget what the child has said to it", the complaint says.

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