Amazon accused of spying on children via Echo Dot Kids
Just last month, Amazon drew major criticism when it was revealed that the company's employees had access to Alexa voice recordings of many users and the power to track their locations. Now, in another creepy case, privacy advocates have accused the internet giant of spying on young children through their Echo Dot Kids product. Here's more on the matter.
Complaint to be filed against Amazon
The Washington Post has reported that as many as 19 privacy groups are planning to file a complaint against Amazon with the Federal Trade Commission for spying on kids. They alleged that the company's Echo Dot Kids, a family-friendly edition of its famous Echo Dot, doesn't work properly, which may ultimately result in data of kids under 13 heading over to Amazon, illegally.
Flaws in parental control
Priced around $70, Amazon Echo Kids comes in a range of colors and offers Alexa-specific capabilities (music playback, food ordering, and voice interaction) for the young generation. However, the privacy groups have argued that the parental controls bundled with the device, in compliance with the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), are flawed.
Parental consent not taken properly
Under COPPA, digital products (app/websites) are required to take parental consent before allowing children aged 13 or below to access their services. The rule even limits the data they can access, but in this particular case, the group found that Echo Dot Kids doesn't request permissions properly and lacks a way to verify who's granting those permissions - a kid or adult.
Plus, recordings are stored indefinitely on cloud
Along with permissions, the group also alleged that the Bezos-owned company stores the recordings of children indefinitely on the cloud. Plus, the tools required to take these recording down from the cloud are not easy to use, especially by a person with limited knowledge. The only way a parent could end this easily is by having the entire profile deleted by Amazon.
Now, they want action against Amazon
The groups slammed Amazon's poor parental control and data management, noting that the company could be collecting information on kids this way. It could be mining their names, birth dates, addresses, and other personal information to improve their products, without giving parents a clue of this activity. They emphasized this is a violation of COPPA, which needs to be addressed with a suitable action.
Meanwhile, here's what Amazon said on the matter
An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider that their Echo Dot Kids are fully compliant with COPPA and they do not collect personal information or share audio recordings of kids with a third-party.