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Amazon Alexa accused of violating kids privacy

Amazon Alexa has been accused of recording and saving conversations that take place around its smart speakers, asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate into the case.

India TV Tech Desk India TV Tech Desk
New Delhi Published on: May 10, 2019 17:18 IST
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Image Source : TWITTER/ALEXA99

Amazon Alexa accused of violating kids privacy

Amazon Alexa has been accused by US Senators and a group of 19 consumer and public health advocates for recording and saving conversations that take place around its smart speakers which urge the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate into the case.

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According to CNN's report on Thursday, the complaint alleges Amazon's Echo Dot Kids Edition smart speaker for violating Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Launched by Amazon last year, the device features a kid-friendly version of Alexa that can play music, answer questions and read stories to kids.

Being a part of the complaint, Senators Edward J. Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin and Josh Hawley claim that "Amazon does not comply with COPPA's requirement of parental consent and does not allow parents to adequately delete their children's information from the device".

Children welfare organisations like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Centre for Digital Democracy have asked FTC to look into the matter.

In reactions to the allegations, Amazon said that it not only worked closely with the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) during the development of Echo Dot Kids Edition but also followed the industry best practice for securing verifiable parental consent.

The company wrote in a blog post, "Specific to Echo Dot Kids Edition and FreeTime on Alexa, we want you to know that Kid skills in Amazon FreeTime do not collect personal information and we require verifiable parental consent from all customers before enabling FreeTime on Alexa".

Being launched seven years ago, Amazon FreeTime service helped parents in managing the ways their kids interact with technology, wherein the post also highlighted that the company allows parents to review and delete any voice recordings at any time on the company website or on Alexa App.

The post noted, "We provide access to our Children's Privacy Disclosure where parents can visit at any time in the Alexa App or on our website. Children's privacy is important to Amazon".

As if now there hasn't been any official statement from FTC.

Senetor Markey and then-Congressman Joe Barton in May 2018 sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with questions about the product asking wheather or not Amazon maintains data profile of every child, along with how long the recording and information are kept.

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