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Kids’ Alexa
News Bytes 05/13/2019 60 Comments

Is Alexa always listening? Some folks worry that the kids’ version of Amazon’s Alexa won’t forget what children tell it—even after parents try to delete the conversations. Now privacy advocates and members of Congress want the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether Echo Dot Kids Edition violates the law.

Several groups are alleging that Amazon is violating the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA, by holding onto a child’s personal information longer than necessary. “These are children talking in their own homes about anything and everything,” says Josh Golin, who directs the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. “Why is Amazon keeping these voice recordings?”

Amazon says that its Echo Dot Kids Edition is COPPA compliant.

Researchers were able to delete data from regular versions of Echo Dot and Alexa. But when Consumer Reports tested the Echo Dot Kids, the device remembered deleted information, including a birth date and the color of a dog.

In one video example, a child asks the Dot to remember some personal information, including a walnut allergy. An adult later tries to delete that information. But when the child asks what Alexa remembers, the Dot recalls that she’s allergic to walnuts. “This suggests that Amazon has designed the Echo Dot Kids Edition so that it can never forget what the child has said,” a complaint against Amazon says.

In the past year, the FTC has been enforcing children’s privacy rules more seriously, says Allison Fitzpatrick, a lawyer who helps companies comply with COPPA requirements. For the FTC to take notice, however, Fitzpatrick says there usually needs to be evidence of “real, actual harm”—not just potential for harm.

The FTC does allow a business to collect a child’s voice recording without parental consent—but only for a temporary and specific purpose, such as to perform an online search or fulfill a verbal command. The kids’ Dot goes much further. A judge will decide whether that's too far.

Should Amazon keep recordings?

(A child holds an Amazon Echo Dot. AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

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Most recent comments

Elsie (Emelias sister)

I am unplugging my Alexa right now.

To Above

Ha! better be safe than sorry! (ps my family dose not oun an Alexa)

No, they should not keep recordings.

I wanted one but my dad wouldn't hear of it.

One time we were talking, and

One time we were talking, and dad looked at his phone, and saw that Siri was putting down what we were saying into a text and was about ready to send it to someone!

To Above

YiCkes!! that's scary!!! ; O

@Cody C

We have a piece of paper or cardboard taped over the lens of our computers... it's just creepy to think that someone could be watching you all the time and you don't even know it!

@Alyssa S

That happened to my mom too! She was thinking outloud something she was going to look up and when she went to look it up, it was already on the list like if she'd searched for it. What happened to your dad... that must have been creepy!!

Here's a story I was told I don't know if it's true or not.

a couple desided they would see if there computers were listning to them. so they set them out on a table in the house and talked loud in front of them on perpose after a wile the computers started talking to eachother!!!

To above

How could they do that? Isn't that kind of strange?

@Sophie

I agree they are always listening and keeping the info. You have to call them and ask them to delete info that you want to be deleted they record everything even when you don't say, "Alexa" I hope they go out of business or aren't aloud to sell their stuff anymore.

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