Amazon And Families End Privacy Battle Over 'Voiceprint' Collection

A group of parents who sued Amazon for allegedly collecting their children's voiceprints have quietly withdrawn their lawsuit.

The dismissal order, signed on Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones in Seattle, states that all parties stipulated to the withdrawal. Other terms, including whether any money changed hands, were not revealed.

Amazon declined to comment on the case. The dismissal brings an end to 2019 class-action complaint alleging that Amazon's Alexa -- a language-processing service -- violates children's privacy by capturing and storing their voiceprints without permission from either them or their parents.

The lawsuit was brought by parents on behalf of children who were identified only by their initials. Their complaint alleged that Amazon's alleged voiceprint collection violates privacy laws in eight states -- Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

advertisement

advertisement

The families withdrew their lawsuit before the judge decided whether they could proceed on behalf of a class, or would have to proceed as individuals. Therefore, any settlement would only affect the individual families that sued, and not all Alexa users.

The decision to drop the case came several months a federal appellate court rejected Amazon's argument that the matter should be sent to arbitration.

Amazon argued that the children's parents had agreed to arbitrate all claims before using Alexa. Amazon said those agreements also apply to the children's claims, even though the minors were not signatories.

Lawyers for the families countered that the agreements didn't include any language suggesting that children who used Alexa would also have to bring any claims to an arbitrator.

Jones rejected Amazon's position last year, writing that the company's stance could “lead to absurd results, where any non-registered user who uses the devices in question could be bound by the arbitration agreement.”

Amazon then appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which also sided against the company.

“Plaintiffs are not asserting any right or looking to enforce any duty created by the contracts between their parents and Amazon,” the appellate judges wrote. “Instead, plaintiffs bring only state statutory claims that do not depend on their parents’ contracts.”

Next story loading loading..