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Lawsuits Claim Amazon's Alexa Voice Assistant Illegally Records Children Without Consent

An Amazon Echo
Photo: Elaine Thompson (AP)

A pair of federal lawsuits against Amazon seeking class action status all right that the e-commerce giant's Alexa voice assistant technology " routinely records and voice prints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents, "breaking laws in nine states, the Seattle Times reported on Wednesday.

Per the Recorder, the two suits" filed on behalf of an eight year old Child in California and a 10 year old child in Massachusetts — were filed by Travis Lenkner of Chicago's Keller Lenkner and LA-based law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Those complaints filed to the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington and Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking damages under privacy laws in nine states: California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

they have been known as two-party consent states, ”Lenkner told the recorder. “An audio recording of a conversation or of another person requires the consent of both sides to that interaction in these states and when such consent is not obtained these state laws contain penalties, including set amounts of statutory damages per violation.”

According to to the Times, the complaint argues that Amazon saves a permanent recording of the user's voice as well as records and transmits clips of anything said after Alexa's wake word is uttered. It also claims that Alexa neither informs users that these permanent recordings will be created nores for ask for their consent beforehand: [says] the Alexa system is capable of identifying individual speakers based on their voices and Amazon could choose to inform users who had previously been consented to being recorded and asking for consent. It could also deactivate permanent recording for users who had not consented.

"But Alexa does not do this," the lawsuit claims. “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.”

The complaint proposes that the potential class action include minors in the states who have "The Times Written.

An Amazon spokeswoman referred to the recorder to information about Amazon FreeTime, while includes Alexa support and bills itself as a" dedicated service that helps parents manage the ways their kids interact with technology, including limiting screen time. ”While FreeTime does allow parents to delete children's profiles or recordings and need to have similar consent requirements, the notices are not discussed in the company's FAQ.

A broader Amazon disclosure of children's privacy lists, information about the company may collect on children, the Times wrote, and elsewhere the Alexa terms of service asserted sweeping rights: A broader children's privacy disclosure discusses Amazon's collection of personal information from children under 13 – which may include "name, birthdate, contact information (including phone numbers and e-mail addresses), voice, photos, videos, location, and certain activity and device information and identifiers" – noting "in some cases we may know a child is using our services (for example, when using a child profile). ”In those cases, collecting that information requires parental consent.

Amazon's Alexa terms of use detail between" you "and Amazon, noting at the outset that" if you do not accept the terms of this agreement, then you may not use Alexa. ”

Attorney Andrew Schapiro told the Times he believed the" you "commission was broadly broad, adding that he wanted “you could even design terms of service that bind everyone in your household.” According to the Times, the plaintiffs are asking for judge to certify the class action, that Amazon delete all recordings or class members, and seeks damages that would be determined to trial.

[Seattle Times]

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