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Amazon Echo Kids Edition is facing FTC complaints

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Amazon rolled out a children’s smart-speaker called the “Echo Dot Kids Edition” last year. The tech giant advertised this brightly colored device to be a simple way for children to converse with Alexa and access age-appropriate apps only.

Recent research backed by advocacy groups revealed that this device collected private information from children and made it cumbersome for parents to delete such information. Amazon is now being accused of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

In the recent past, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy commissioned research on “Echo Dots Kids Edition.” The research found that the device enabled children to easily divulge private information such as their names, Social Security numbers and more.

On top of this, it is also found that Amazon made it exceedingly confusing and tough for parents to delete such private information stored by the device.

On Thursday, both the groups accompanied by more than a dozen others lodged a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. According to the plaintiffs, Amazon violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which is a federal law protecting the personal information of children under the age of 13.

They’ve also stated in their complaint that Amazon didn’t obtain consent from children’s parents or guardians before collecting their personal data and voice recordings. The groups further complained that Amazon had no right to store voice recordings of children and that it failed to disclose the data collected on children and how it used such data.

Amazon said in a statement that the device and the subscription service for children is compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. It is to be noted that Amazon is trying to capture children’s attention in an era where there is heightened public concern and outrage over data-mining of children and youngsters.

According to the previously mentioned online privacy act for children, any digital service for children below age 13 must obtain verifiable permission from the parents before collecting any personal data.

In the last year alone, several tech giants and startups failed to comply with the law and have been charged by the state and federal regulators. With voice recordings considered as the most sensitive data in the case of children, Amazon’s device was under special scrutiny.

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