Is Amazon Echo Dot Kids collecting children’s datas?
Amazon Echo Dot is the new Alexa smart assistant from Amazon. His particularity ? This assistant is intended to children. Some american associations claim that Amazon is collecting illegally children datas through this assistant.
What Amazon Dot Kids is ?
Amazon Echo Dot Kid is technologically the same than the classic Amazon Echo Dot. But this is a specific version of Alexa assistant. It is made for entertaining and helping children. Children have only access to medias online with their age. Amazon Kids is including a subscription to Amazon Freetime Unlimited, a place where children can get audio books or medias from Disney or Nickelodeon.
Alexa assistant is also developed to explain clearly her answers, for helping children to understand her. Alexa assistant is also programmed to induce kids to get good behavior ( asking them to say please or thank you when they ask something to the assistant etc.)
As for all smart assistants, privacy questions are raising up, especially when it concerns children. Moreover, in USA the COPPA is a law enacted to protect children datas.
The COPPA, an Americain law to protect children datas
The Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA) has been enacted in 1998. This law purposes restrictions and obligations for any physical person or moral person who collects informations about minor under 13 years old.
A class action against Amazon
Nineteen groups ( including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood ant the Center for Digital Democracy for example) have launched a complaint with FTC (Federal Trade Commission) against Amazon, arguing the company doesn’t respect COPPA’s obligations.
The main claim of these groups is about the obligation of information. Amazon doesn’t provide enough informations to the parents, in particular about what kind of personal datas will be collected, and how datas will be used. Moreover, the consent wouldn’t be effective.Parents provide their consent for children’s datas to be collected by third parties through an online service, but they are not aware about that because of the unclear information. About the consent as well, the other problem is that amazon doesn’t check if the person who is providing consent is effectively a parent of the child.
Amazon is also accused to collect children’s conversations and to conserve voice recordings longer than necessary. In addition, Amazon ignores resquests of suppression of these records.
However, Amazon claims the company doesn’t violate any COPPA’s obligations.
Class actions are very common is United States. In European Union this procedure is authorised since the entry into force of the GDPR. This kind of procedure about personal datas will probably increase in Europe. To be continued…