FTC Urged to Investigate Amazon Alexa’s Interactions with Children

Child advocates are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the kids’ version of Amazon’s Alexa for alleged privacy violations, complaining that it won’t forget what children tell it, even after parents try to delete the conversations.

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Amazon “smart” products that run on the Alexa voice-recognition software are some of the most in-demand electronics around the world.

Alexa won’t forget conversations

The main complaint by child advocates have is that Alexa appears to hold on to the conversations of children, even when an adult attempts to delete them. Alexa also holds onto written transcripts associated with the voice recordings.

“This suggests that Amazon has designed the Echo Dot Kids Edition so that it can never forget what the child has said to it,” the complaint to the FTC says.

Violations of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act?

A coalition of advocacy groups, led by one group the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, as well as Georgetown University’s Institute for Public Representation, as filing a formal complaint with the FTC. The advocates are alleging that Amazon,  by holding onto a child’s personal information longer than is reasonably necessary, is violating the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

In a statement, Amazon said that it’s kids’ version of Alexa, Echo Dot Kids Edition, is in compliance with COPPA.

Alexa-based devices were the top-selling holiday product for Amazon

During the holiday season, products that use Amazon’s Alexa software were the most in-demand products of the online retail giant. Amazon’s Echo Dot device broke new sales records, becoming the company’s top-selling product for the third straight year. Alexa was the top free download app for iOS and Android.

Echo smart speakers were also among the top-selling devices. The other best-selling device was Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K, with its new Alexa voice remote. These products were in such hi demand that the company had difficulties due to shortages of their products in many countries.