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Is Your Alexa Device Secretly Recording You? One Lawsuit Thinks So.

— June 14, 2019

A recent federal lawsuit alleges Alexa devices have been secretly recording children without their parent’s consent.

A federal suit filed earlier this week alleges Amazon has been secretly recording children via its Alexa devices without their consent or consent from their parents. For those who don’t know, Alexa is a built-in voice assistant “shipped with devices like Amazon Echo, Amazon Dot, Fire TV and more.”

According to the suit, which was filed in Seattle earlier this week, “Alexa routinely records and voiceprints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents.” The suit is seeking class-action status.

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Similar suits have also been filed in recent weeks. In fact, just last week one was filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles that states:

“It takes no great leap of imagination to be concerned that Amazon is developing voiceprints for millions of children that could allow the company (and potentially governments) to track a child’s use of Alexa-enabled devices in multiple locations and match those uses with a vast level of detail about the child’s life, ranging from private questions they have asked Alexa to the products they have used in their home.”

The allegations in each suit could spell big trouble for the tech giant, because if they’re true, it would mean Amazon has been violating “laws governing recordings in at least eight states, including California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington, which require all parties to consent to a recording, regardless of their age.”

Additionally, it would also mean the company “has been fraudulent in its child privacy policy, which states, ‘you choose whether to give us permission to collect Child Personal Information from your child. If you have not given us permission to collect Child Personal Information, we may make available certain voice services intended for children (e.g., certain Alexa kid skills), and we may process your child’s voice recordings to provide these services, but we will not store those voice recordings,” according to the suit.

On top of that, the suit also claims that while Amazon takes steps to follow its privacy policies, Alexa does not. It states, “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.” It further states that the way Alexa devices are designed makes it hard to protect a person’s privacy at all times and says, “Alexa captures, records and stores all voices indiscriminately after being woken up, even though the platform is capable of distinguishing different speakers.”

In response to the lawsuit, Amazon issued the following statement:

“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. For 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.”


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