It would appear that Amazon is going through yet another “oh-oh! I did it again” phase; earlier this week, a Seattle couple declared that it intends to seek legal action against the company which, allegedly, has unlawfully been recording the voice of their 10-year-old daughter.
In at least 8 US states, recording someone without consent, regardless of ages, is punishable by law. Amazon is unsure whether the couple’s evidence will stand up in court or not.
Why is Alexa recording voices in the first place?
As far as I know, AI-powered home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, usually collect some ‘scraps’ to improve voice recognition or to offer customer-tailored products.
If proven to be true, this could mean that Amazon has been secretly collecting recordings of Alexa users to use them for God knows what purposes.
In fact, according to the incriminating document that the Seattle couple withholds, Amazon is using these Alexa recordings in order to keep tabs on their children.
The alleged database, which, presumably contains all the children’s recordings, could hold sensitive data such as search history, location, and names.
Unfortunately, this is far from being an isolated incident. Another family, but this time from California, also seek a class-action lawsuit against the company. The charges – recording a minor without prior consent from parents, tutor, or the child.
Both plaintiffs have declared that the recording which, theoretically, should not leave the device, infringe upon Alexa’s Terms and Conditions.
According to the documents, the user can choose whether or not the device can collect Child Personal Information from a child.
Furthermore, per the same document, if the user opts out this feature, the device may still collect ‘scraps’ such as wake-up calls or queries in order to improve child interaction.
In light of this document, if the couple’s allegations prove to be true, Amazon could find itself in a world of pain.
Reached out for comments, Amazon declared that the amassed proof is somewhat vague. More specifically, the company does not know for certain if the couple has solid evidence which proves the existence of this database.
In its closing statement, the Amazon spokesperson reiterated the company’s longstanding commitment towards guaranteeing their users’ privacy.
I would like to remind the readers that this is not the company’s first blunder. Back in December, Amazon stood on the verge of being dragged in a court, after it was discovered that over 1,000 audio files of an undisclosed customer were sent, by mistake, to another user.
The case was quietly dismissed. Per the company’s statements, the oversight was the work of a single employee, who no longer works with Amazon.
I don’t know for sure, but the signs don’t look right for Amazon.
Even if the lawsuits are labeled as having no factual basis, the company will still need to explain to its customers why the device needs to collect these voice recordings. More than that, they will also need to convince us that these recordings do no leave the devices.
What’s your take on this whole business? Hit the comments section and let me know.