In the complaint is filed by two law firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Keller Lenkner, on behalf of an unnamed minor and other similarly situated children, plaintiffs criticize Amazon's methods, alleging that the company, despite having the choice to scramble or encrypt user voices, instead retains, analyzes, and uses actual voice recordings so that it can use them for commercial benefit.
Each device has the ability to respond to human voice recognition.
The Echo Input is the only Amazon Echo device I own, and I'm absolutely satisfied with it (especially at this price).
The lawyers involved in the two cases are now seeking damages for the two plaintiffs involved, as well as those being invited to join the class-action suit in the nine U.S. states where Amazon is alleged to be in breach of privacy laws.
Children, the lawsuit argues, are not only incapable of consenting to such use, but Alexa's Terms of Service Agreement fails to obtain, explicitly or otherwise, the consent of childrens' parents or guardians.
It says the Alexa system is capable of identifying individual speakers based on their voices and Amazon could choose to inform users who had not previously consented that they were being recorded and ask for consent.
This is not the first time Amazon have been criticised for violating privacy with their Alexa devices.
"It takes no great leap of imagination to be concerned that Amazon is developing voiceprints for millions of children that could allow the company (and potentially governments) to track a child's use of Alexa-enabled devices in multiple locations and match those uses with a vast level of detail about the child's life, ranging from private questions they have asked Alexa to the products they have used in their home", the suit adds.
In response, Amazon has pointed to the blog it published last month regarding a subscription service created to help parents manage their child's Alexa use. It was announced by Amazon in January that over 100 million devices featuring Alexa had been sold.
There's also a feature to delete all your voice recordings, but this must be activated in the app and will only delete recordings from the current calendar day. They also noted that parents have the option of deleting recordings via their website and even have the option to contact them directly if any worries over voice recording were made.
"So if you don't that, then we do do not keep any of the data for the child and we wouldn't ever do that".