Amazon sued for recording children’s voices via Alexa

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In a lawsuit, Amazon has been sued by a woman from Massachusetts on behalf of her 10 year old daughter and children from eight other states is also seeking to take legal actions against the eCommerce giant Amazon for recording and storing the voices of children without their or their parent’s permission. Filed in a “Federal court in Seattle the lawsuit accuses Amazon of saving voice prints of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa enabled smart devices” Vox news reported on Friday.

The woman has said that Amazon illegally recorded the voice of children and added them to “a massive database of billions of voice recordings that also contains the private details of millions of Americans”. Two cases were filed against amazon. One case was filed in Seattle federal court on the behalf of a 10 year old girl and the other in Los Angeles state court on behalf an 8 year old boy.

Both cases claims that the kids were using an Echo Dot which is Amazon’s most popular smart speaker with that exceeds sales of 50 million units.The complaint says that children cannot consent to be recorded and do not comprehend the “potentially invasive uses of big data by a company the size of Amazon” and that they “use Alexa without any understanding or warning that Amazon is recording and voice-printing them” the report said. The girl from Massachusetts is a registered user of Alexa. Amazon countered that it has “strict measures and protocols in place to protect ‘family’ security and privacy.” And in a statement to The Post it specifically addressed 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” it said.

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The Seattle case wants damages up to $100 a day and the California case asks for damages of $5000 per violation. “Customers set up their Echo devices and we give them easy to use tools to manage them including the ability to review and delete the voice recordings associated with their account” an amazon spokesperson as said. He also mentioned “a company blog post that discusses Amazon FreeTime a dedicated service launched in 2012 to help parents manage the ways their kids interact with technology including limiting screen time.

“This is not the first time that amazon was charged of violating kids privacy with Alexa. Earlier in May US Senators,a group of 19 consumers and public health advocates accused Amazon for recording and storing the conversations that take place around it’s smart speakers, recommending the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate into the case.Fighting privacy concerns and data collection suspicions in may amazon added support for new voice commands that let users ask Alexa to delete previous voice recordings.To ensure security and privacy of users amazon will be launching ‘Alexa Privacy Hub’ which is supposed to offer an easy way to learn how Alexa works and find privacy controls. Both cases demand that Amazon should acquire permission before recording minors voices and must delete the existing recordings of them. The lawsuits could create a bad effect for Amazon as it markets it’s Alexa speakers including kid’s. The company on Monday updated it’s Echo Dot Kids Edition which was made specially for children.

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