Alexa, are you listening? Never mind, we already know the answer. Regardless, we still bring the conveniences that come with a digital voice assistant into our homes, to answer our questions and control our growing number of connected devices.
Yet, even with privacy scares and other concerns, there’s also the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition made especially for your children. Even though parents and consumer advocacy groups are up in arms about data collection involving children, there’s an all-new Kids Edition that was made available to preorder this past Monday.
That’s not the only thing that happened this week. Two class-action lawsuits have been filed against Amazon, saying the company is violating the law when it comes to recording audio from children.
Kids Edition or not, Alexa still listens
As the name implies, the Echo Dot Kids Edition was designed for children and it touts features like special games while also adjusting the way Alexa responds to questions. It was first released just over a year ago and priced considerably higher than the unrestricted Dot.
Now you’ve got the second generation with a new design, better audio and it comes available in two fun colors (light blue and a rainbow pattern). It can be preordered at a special introductory price but will retail for $70 after it’s officially released on June 26.
Amazon also throws in a one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited for adjusting privacy controls, which also lets your kids listen to hundreds of age-appropriate audiobooks and other relevant content. Neat.
But even though you can set restrictions to block things like explicit content and being able to make purchases, Alexa doesn’t restrict how it deals with data collection.
Alexa and your kids’ privacy
While the Dot for kids is great at streaming music or helping with homework, it’s like the grown-up version when it comes to recordings.
Some consumer advocacy groups lodged a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in May asking for an investigation, saying the Echo Dot Kids Editions illegally collect voice recordings and other personal information from children that can’t be deleted.
The issue at hand in the 96-page complaint is that kids are not of age to consent to complex privacy agreements, yet Amazon can still conduct the same data-harvesting tactics it uses on adult customers. Amazon responded by saying the device is in line with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, while also saying data collection is necessary to improve future versions of Alexa.
The FTC has been quiet thus far, and Amazon has moved on with a new version. Now, class-action lawsuits are being filed, claiming Amazon is breaking the law in multiple states.
Class-action lawsuits filed against Amazon
On June 11, Chicago-based law firm Keller Lenkner and L.A.-based law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan filed two class-action complaints, in California state court and in Washington (state) federal court.
One of those complaints says “Alexa routinely records and voiceprints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents” in violation of laws in nine states including:
- New Hampshire
The lawsuit filed in California is asking for an injection that would require Amazon to get consent before recording kids’ interactions with Alexa, to delete existing recordings and prevent future unauthorized recordings. It’s seeking damages of $5,000 per violation.
- Click or tap here to read the complaint filed in California Superior Court
- Click or tap here to read the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Washington in Seattle
Removing you and your child’s recording from Alexa
To go back and delete recordings collected by Alexa, follow these steps:
- Open the Alexa app and tap the three lines in the top left to access the main menu
- Tap Settings followed by Alexa Privacy
- Tap Review Voice History
- Review your recordings and delete the data by a specific day or All History
There’s also a new feature where you can say “Alexa, delete everything I said today.” Click or tap here to learn more and how to set it up.