Amazon Alexa records children's voices without consent

Occurred: June 2019

Lawsuits filed in Seattle and Los Angeles allege Amazon is recording children who use its Alexa devices without their consent, in violation of laws governing recordings in at least eight US states.

The suits highlight Amazon's permanent recording and storing of voices, regardless of consent, in contrast to makers of voice-controlled computing devices that delete recordings after storing them for a short time or not at all. 

'Alexa routinely records and voiceprints millions of children without their consent or the consent of their parents,' said a complaint filed on behalf of a 10-year-old girl in Seattle. A nearly identical suit was filed the same day in Los Angeles on behalf of an 8-year-old boy. 

'At no point does Amazon warn unregistered users that it is creating persistent voice recordings of their Alexa interactions, let alone obtain their consent to do so,' the same suit says.

The two suits also highlight Amazon's failure to inform unknowing parties of their recordings and seek their approval or delete them.

Operator: Alison Hall-O’Neil; Steve Altes
Developer: Amazon

Country: USA

Sector: Consumer goods

Purpose: Provide information, services

Technology: NLP/text analysis; Natural language understanding (NLU); Speech recognition
Issue: Privacy

Transparency: Governance; Privacy; Marketing

Legal, regulatory 👩🏼‍⚖️