Amazon Sued Over Alleged Child Privacy Protection Violation


Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is facing two lawsuits in the U.S. that accuse the company of violating child privacy protection through its Alexa AI assistant.

The pair of federal lawsuits filed in Seattle and Los Angeles, allege that the e-commerce giant has been routinely recording and voice-printing millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents using its Alexa-powered smart speakers.

According to The Seattle Times, one of the suit was filed in a federal court in California Superior Court in Los Angeles on behalf of an 8-year-old boy on Tuesday. A similar suit was filed the same day on behalf of a 10-year-old Massachusetts girl in Seattle.

“Alexa routinely records and voiceprints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents,” according to the complaint filed on behalf of the 10-year-old girl.

The suits claim that the company is going against laws in Maryland, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Massachusetts that require the informed consent of all parties (including minors) to a recording.

The lawsuit reads: “When children say a wake word to an Alexa Device, the device records and transmits the children’s communications in the same manner that it handles adults’ communications.”

It also claims that the company uses the recordings captures by Alexa to benefit its business. The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, further alleges that Amazon has “strong commercial incentives to collect as many Alexa recordings as possible.”

Complainants want the company to be ordered to prevent further recordings without prior consent and delete every recording of class members. Earlier this week, Amazon updated its Echo Dot Kids Edition that is designed specifically for kids.

The online retailer has not commented on the lawsuits, but it previously said that its devices comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requirements.

Shares of Amazon ended Thursday’s regular trading with a gain of $14.98, or 0.81% to $1,870.30. The stock has jumped more than 23% since the beginning of the year.

Amazon Inc Profile

Amazon is among the world’s highest-grossing online retailers, with $233 billion in net sales and $408 billion in estimated global gross merchandise volume (GMV) in 2018.

Online product and digital media content sales accounted for 53% of net revenue in 2018, followed by commissions, related fulfillment and shipping fees, and other third-party seller services (18%), Amazon Web Services’ cloud compute, storage, database, and other offerings (11%), Prime membership fees and other subscription-based services (6%), product sales at Whole Foods and other physical store retail formats (7%), and advertising services and cobranded credit cards (4%).

International segments constituted 32% of Amazon’s non-AWS sales in 2018, led by Germany, the United Kingdom, and Japan.