Consumer groups accuse Amazon of illegal voice recording on Echo Dot Kids speaker

The colorful Echo Dot Kids Edition. (Amazon Image)

Consumer advocacy and privacy groups filed a complaint with the FTC on Thursday asking to investigate Amazon for allegedly illegally collecting information via its Echo Dot Kids Edition device.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) led a coalition of 19 groups that filed the complaint. Their own investigation found that Amazon violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) “in many ways.”

“Amazon collects sensitive personal information from kids, including their voice recordings and data gleaned from kids’ viewing, reading, listening, and purchasing habits, and retains it indefinitely,” CCFC wrote in a news release. “Most shockingly, Amazon retains children’s data even after parents believe they have deleted it.

Here’s how the FTC defines COPPA: “COPPA imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age.”

Here’s a statement from an Amazon spokesperson:

“FreeTime on Alexa and Echo Dot Kids Edition are compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Customers can find more information on Alexa and overall privacy practices here.”

Amazon released its Echo Dot Kids device last year, targeting younger users with a colorful take on its traditional voice speaker. FreeTime is software that parents can use to manage how their kids use the Echo Dot and also features other parent-related tools.

This is the latest voice privacy-related controversy for Amazon, which has been in the news recently over concerns with how its Alexa technology records user interactions.

Here’s a video that CCFC helped produce “demonstrating how Amazon ignores the request to delete or ‘forget’ a child’s information it has remembered.”