December 1, 2020

19 Consumer Groups “Accuse Amazon Of Illegally Collecting Data On Children”

From The Washington Post:

A coalition of 19 consumer and privacy groups plans to file a complaint Thursday alleging that Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition is illegally collecting voice recordings and other identifying information on users under 13 and that the system’s parental controls are flawed.

The complaint says that the Echo Dot Kids Edition — a colorful, youth-oriented version of Amazon’s popular “smart speaker” systems that allow users to ask questions, play music or control thermostats with voice commands — violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA. The 1998 law sharply limits what data companies can collect without permission from parents.

Read the Complete WaPo Article

Source: Wikimedia Commons

From a Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) News Release:

An investigation by CCFC and the Institute for Public Representation (IPR) at Georgetown Law revealed that Echo Dot Kids, a candy-colored version of Amazon’s home assistant with Alexa voice technology, violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in many ways. 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. Most shockingly, Amazon retains children’s data even after parents believe they have deleted it. CCFC and IPR have produced a video demonstrating how Amazon ignores the request to delete or “forget” a child’s information it has remembered. The advocates’ FTC complaint also say Amazon offers parents a maze of multiple privacy policies, which violate COPPA because they are confusing, misleading and even contradictory.

“Amazon markets Echo Dot Kids as a device to educate and entertain kids, but the real purpose is to amass a treasure trove of sensitive data that it refuses to relinquish even when directed to by parents,” said Josh Golin, CCFC’s Executive Director. “COPPA makes clear that parents are the ones with the final say about what happens to their children’s data, not Jeff Bezos. The FTC must hold Amazon accountable for blatantly violating children’s privacy law and putting kids at risk.”

Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition comes with a one-year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited, which connects children with entertainment like movies, music, audiobooks, and video games. The always-on listening device is often placed in the child’s bedroom, and kids are encouraged to interact with it as if Alexa was a close friend. Kids can download “skills,” similar to apps, to add functionality. In clear violation of COPPA, Amazon disavows responsibility for the data collection practices of Alexa skills for kids and tells parents to check the skill developers’ privacy policies. To make matters worse, 85% of skills for kids have no privacy policy posted.

Direct to Complete News Release

Resources

19 Organizations Submitting Complaint

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
Center for Digital Democracy
Color of Change
Berkeley Media Studies Group
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of America
Defending the Early Years
Electronic Privacy Information Center
New Dream
Open MIC (Open Media and Information Companies Initiative)
Parents Across America
Parent Coalition for Student Privacy
Parents Television Council
Peace Educators Allied for Children Everywhere (P.E.A.C.E.)
Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring
Story of Stuff
TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Childhood Entertainment)
Public Citizen
U.S. PIRG

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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