On Thursday, child and privacy advocacy groups lodged a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), alleging that Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids devices are unjustly recording and storing the conversation data of young kids.
In the complaint, the coalition charges Amazon of illegally storing data from discussion with children even after parents try to delete it. If the allegation proves true, the practice could breach the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), one of the only federal privacy laws on the books. COPPA enforces certain privacy condition for websites and services that are aimed toward children, which include acquiring parental consent before a child’s data under the age of 13 is collected or stored.
An Amazon spokesperson stated that the company refutes that their devices are in contravention of the law. “FreeTime on Alexa and Echo Dot Kids Edition obeys the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids devices were introduced last year as a child-friendly version of the company’s other Alexa devices. However, Thursday’s FTC filing claims that the voice-activated device gathers and stores the transcripts of talks the children have with it, along with fact on what content the young users engage with on the device.
Josh Golin, the executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the organization that headed this endeavor stated that Amazon advertise Echo Dot Kids as a device to educate and entertain kids, but the actual purpose is to assemble a treasure trove of delicate data that it refuses to abdicate even when supervised by parents.
A bipartisan group of legislators also sent a letter to the FTC requesting that the agency strat an investigation into the issue.