U.S. senators say Amazon smart speaker for kids violates privacy law

Amazon’s kid-friendly Echo Dot is ‘blatant violation’ of child privacy laws, investigation finds

"Our investigation has demonstrated that Amazon's child directed online service does not give parents adequate notice, does not obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting and using children's personal information, retains children's personal information longer than reasonably necessary, and does not comply with [the law's] parental control requirements", the complaint alleges.

An Amazon spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that the company is compliant with federal privacy laws and that Amazon's privacy policies are disclosed on its website.

The advocates also note in the complaint that their testing discovered that "deleting the voice recordings does not delete the transcription of those recordings", and that it is "unduly burdensome for parents" to actually review and delete any of the children's information that has been recorded by the device.

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Several US senators are asking Amazon for more information about its Echo Dot Kids Edition, which advocacy groups claim violates kids' digital privacy. When we did the same experiment with a regular Echo Dot and standard menus in the Alexa app, we were able to delete the information. Consumer advocates say the kids' version of Amazon's Alexa won't forget what children tell it, even after parents try to delete the conversations. But when the child asks what Alexa remembers, it still recalls that she's allergic to walnuts. Such skills are generally produced by independent software developers or other third parties, not Amazon.

Recently, Amazon Alexa was in news after a report surfaced online suggesting that Amazon employees can listen to the voice recordings of Amazon Echo users.

The 98-page complaint is the latest in a series by consumer and privacy groups urging the United States Federal Trade Commission to intensify its enforcement of how leading technology companies treat children and their personal data.

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That was the case earlier this week, when the agency issued a warning to a Ukrainian firm that its three dating apps appeared to violate COPPA because they were accessible to children.

"Amazon collects sensitive personal information from kids, including their voice recordings and data gleaned from kids' viewing, reading, listening, and purchasing habits, and retains it indefinitely", CCFC wrote in a news release.

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