Children's Lawyers Battle Amazon Over Alexa Voice Recordings

Amazon isn't entitled to compel arbitration of a privacy lawsuit centered on allegations that the company collects recordings of children's voices, counsel for children and their parents argue in new court papers.

The lawsuit, brought earlier this year, alleges that Amazon's Alexa captures and stores children's voiceprints without permission from either the children or their parents.

Lawyers for the users say in a class-action complaint that the alleged voiceprint collection violates privacy laws in eight states -- Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Amazon recently asked U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones in Seattle to compel arbitration, arguing that the parents all accepted arbitration agreements before activating Alexa. Those agreements also apply to the children, even though they didn't sign them, Amazon contends.

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Class counsel argues that the agreements themselves didn't include any language suggesting that children who used Alexa would also have to bring any claims to an arbitrator.

“The contracts on which Amazon relies do not even arguably say that the registered user is exercising parental authority to consent for his or her children,” lawyers for the Alexa users argues in papers filed Monday. “With a few keystrokes, Amazon could have included such language. But it chose not to do so.”

The original lawsuit came several weeks after watchdogs Center for Digital Democracy and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said in a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission that Amazon's Echo Dot Kids Edition fails to comply with the federal children's privacy law.

Those groups alleged that the device violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal information from children -- including names, phone numbers, email addresses and other data -- without adequately inform parents about the data collection, or obtaining their consent.

Earlier this week, Amazon introduced new privacy features aimed at giving Alexa users more control over their data.

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