May 10, 2019

Amazon’s Echo Dot Under Scrutiny for Unlawfully Storing and Recording the Conversation Data of Young Children

Amazon says that they have not disregarded any privacy rules when it comes to children. However, many child advocacy groups have filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission in the United States. They claim that Amazon is storing as well as recording the data of conversation of young children through its product called Echo Dot. This complaint has been filed under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It is an essential federal law on privacy.

What Is “Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act” (COPPA)?

As a part of COPPA, services or websites that cater to the needs of children are imposed with some privacy requirements. This includes taking consent of parents before collecting or storing the data of children. In this context, children refer to individuals who are thirteen years of age or younger. Hence, in this case, the activists and advocates of child privacy are of the view that Amazon has infringed this law. However, Amazon actively denies it. It says that both Echo Dot and Free Time on Alexa are in complete compliance with COPPA.

What Is Echo Dot?

Amazon launched Echo Dot last year as a device catered to kids. So, they apparently designed it to be “child-friendly.” Echo Dot is like a children-focused version of Alexa. The main idea behind launching this device, as stated by Amazon, is to entertain and educate kids. However, the activists who filed a complaint against Amazon state that the main idea behind the launch of this device is to get hold of the data of children even when the parents don’t give their express permission.

YouTube video

Echo Dot (3rd Gen) – Smart Speaker with Alexa

Some activists spearheaded the filing of this complaint as a part of the campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). They believe that children are very vulnerable. Therefore, it is best not to expose them to commercials and advertisements at a younger age. It might affect them and their future adversely.

Final Words

The entire case with Amazon Echo Dot and Alexa is an eye-opener. It is especially significant for those who give their children the latest gadgets at an early age. Even if the gadgets claim that they are child-friendly, parents must give it a second thought before buying them. Additionally, it is important to note that children are highly vulnerable and receptive to all kinds of information. It is also not the right age for them to make proper and logical decisions. Therefore, if their data is collected and stored in order to use later to create advertisements, it might not be suitable for their mental health.

These things can have big impacts on the overall development of a child. Hence, in times when information is so readily available, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is taking over, it is time to take a step back and re-think. Parents of young children and adults need to think before buying gadgets for the little ones. This is because they need to have control over the level of exposure and how it impacts their brains.

About the author 

Imran Uddin

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