EVERYTHING DO-ER Amazon has been hit with a duo of lawsuits that claim its Alexa AI assistant illegally records children without consent.
The two lawsuits were filed in Seattle and Los Angeles this week on behalf of a 10-year old girl and 8-year-old boy, respectively, and allege that Alexa "routinely records and voiceprints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents."
By doing so, Amazon is violating laws that require the informed consent of all parties to a recording, regardless of age, in at least eight states - Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington — the suit claims, according to the Seattle Times.
"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," the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, reads.
The lawsuit also claims Amazon is using the recordings it captures through Alexa to benefit its business, and "has strong commercial incentives to collect as many Alexa recordings as possible."
"It takes no great leap of imagination to be concerned that Amazon is developing voiceprints for millions of children that could allow the company (and potentially governments) to track a child's use of Alexa-enabled devices in multiple locations and match those uses with a vast level of detail about the child's life, ranging from private questions they have asked Alexa to the products they have used in their home," the suit adds.
The lawsuit asks for Amazon to be ordered to delete all recordings of class members and to prevent further recording without prior consent.
Amazon has yet to comment on the suit, but on Wednesday it attempted to diffuse privacy concerns at the unveiling of a new version of Echo Dot gadget for kids.
The firm said it built its 'FreeTime' games and media service for kids with the input of family groups, adding that it adheres to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
"None of the Alexa skills included within FreeTime Unlimited have access to or collect personal information from children, and there are multiple ways to delete a child's profile or voice recordings," it added. µ
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