Amazon has come under scrutiny over new privacy concerns: spying on children.
Continue Reading Below
A group of child protection and advocacy groups has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging the e-commerce giant’s Echo Dot Kids – a voice-controlled computing device with parental controls – violates certain children’s protection policies.
Similar to the company’s other devices, the Echo Dot is activated with a command word, but this specific device is geared toward children – making it subject to different privacy regulations.
The groups say children’s conversations are recorded and stored in the cloud – until deleted by parents. And even then, parents are allegedly unable to delete some, or all, of the recordings.
“The Echo Dot Kids Edition has the capacity to collect vast amounts of sensitive, personal information from children under age 13,” the complaint reads. “Our testing found that deleting the voice recordings does not delete the transcription of those recordings, which may contain personal information identified with a specific child or device.”
The groups claim that the process for parents to find out what information has been collected requires them to listen to every recording. They also raised concern over how the data is shared with third parties, which are allegedly not subject to Amazon’s privacy policies.
The practices in question violate the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act, according to the filing, and the groups are asking the FTC to investigate.
In response to the complaint, a spokesperson for Amazon said the device is “compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.”
This is not the first time Amazon’s smart devices have been questioned over privacy concerns. Last month a report surfaced that Amazon workers listen to and transcribe recordings. In response, the company said it only annotates an “extremely small number of interactions” in order to improve customer experience.
Last year, Amazon’s Alexa Echo reportedly recorded and shared a private conversation.