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Is the Amazon Echo Dot spying on your kids?

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    Amazon Echo Dot
    Amazon Echo Dot

    A bug in the privacy settings of Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition has led to a coalition of consumer and privacy groups filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against the company. The bug in the Amazon Alexa app prevented parents from deleting personal information shared by children.

    Amazon Echo Dot: What are the allegations?

    In a complaint filed on Thursday, 19 organizations alleged Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition collects

    “vast amounts of sensitive, personal information from children under age 13”

    The complaint also alleges that the device does not comply with the federal Children Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and fails to obtain proper parental consent.

    A feature on the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition, called ‘Remember This’,  allows children to save personal information, leading privacy groups to claim that the company illegally collects personal information on kids through smart speakers.

    According to Amazon, parents should be able to use the FreeTime feature in the Amazon Alexa app, to review and delete any sensitive information. However, due to the bug, this feature was not working as expected.

    Amazon Echo Dot spying on your kids

    In response, Amazon has issued a statement allaying any fears of breach of privacy. Also claiming that Amazon obtains parents’ consent when they enter their payment card verification code or a one-time code sent via text message.

    Parents can also delete the recordings through the app or on its website. They can contact Amazon customer service to delete their child’s profile and personal information, as per the company’s statement.

    CCFC’s take on the whole issue

    Privacy groups, however, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), are not satisfied with the company’s response.

    “Amazon markets Echo Dot Kids as a device to educate and entertain kids, but the real purpose is to amass a treasure trove of sensitive data that it refuses to relinquish even when directed to by parents,”

    Josh Golin, CCFC’s executive director, said in a statement.

    “COPPA makes clear that parents are the ones with the final say about what happens to their children’s data, not Jeff Bezos. The FTC must hold Amazon accountable for blatantly violating children’s privacy law and putting kids at risk.”

    As per the latest reports, Amazon has rushed to fix the feature and parents can now review and delete any sensitive information.

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