Amazon Echo Dot Kids Violates Privacy Rules, Advocates Claim
Several groups filed a complaint with the FTC. Amazon says one of the problems is a software bug that will be fixed.
Nineteen privacy advocacy organizations have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, urging the agency to investigate whether Amazon has violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) with the kids edition of its Echo Dot smart speaker.
The organizations, which include the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CFCC), the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG, say the colorful smart speaker can record and collect "vast amounts of sensitive, personal information from children under 13 [years old]" without the level of parental consent required by law.
The privacy protection act allows companies to verify parental consent by having an adult enter a credit card number and a CCV security code. The complaint says that Amazon's method for acquiring consent falls outside the rules, because it allows a user to enter numbers from gift cards instead. That could make it more likely for a child to enter personal data without a parent's permission, the complaint says.
Working with researchers at Georgetown University, the groups also discovered that once a child tells the Echo Dot Kids Edition to remember certain personal details, parents are unable to delete the information using the FreeTime feature on Amazon Alexa mobile app, which is designed to control the device. Consumer Reports confirmed this problem using our own Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition.
But we found that if we entered the same information into a regular Echo Dot speaker, we could delete it using the app (details below).
Consumer Reports notified Amazon of this finding; several hours later a spokesperson responded by email, "There is a bug in the Remember This feature for FreeTime on Alexa, and we are working on a fix that should start rolling out soon.”
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