Monday January 20, 2020
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Amazon Accused of Violating Kids’ Privacy with Alexa

There has been no official statement from FTC on the subject as yet

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The Amazon warehouse in San Fernando de Henares is seen during a 3-day walkout to demand better wages and working conditions, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain. VOA

US Senators and a group of 19 consumer and public health advocates have accused Amazon for recording and saving conversations that take place around its smart speakers, urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate into the case.

The complaint alleges Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition smart speaker of being in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), CNN reported late on Thursday.

Launched last year, the device features a kid-friendly version of Alexa which plays music, reads stories and answers questions to kids.

As part of the complaint, Senators Edward J. Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin and Josh Hawley claim that “Amazon does not comply with COPPA’s requirement of parental consent and does not allow parents to adequately delete their children’s information from the device”.

Children welfare organisations like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Centre for Digital Democracy have also asked the FTC to look into the matter.

Reacting to the allegations, the e-commerce giant said it not only worked closely with organisations like the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) while developing Echo Dot Kids Edition but also followed industry’s best practices for securing verifiable parental consent.

Amazon Alexa. Flickr
Amazon Alexa. Flickr

“Specific to Echo Dot Kids Edition and FreeTime on Alexa, we want you to know that Kid skills in Amazon FreeTime do not collect personal information and we require verifiable parental consent from all customers before enabling FreeTime on Alexa,” the company wrote in a blog post.

Launched seven years ago, Amazon FreeTime service helps parents manage the ways their kids interact with technology, including limiting screen time.

The post also highlighted that the company allows parents to review and delete any voice recordings at any time in the Alexa App or on the company website.

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“We provide access to our Children’s Privacy Disclosure where parents can visit at any time in the Alexa App or on our website. Children’s privacy is important to Amazon,” the post noted.

There has been no official statement from FTC on the subject as yet.

In May 2018, Senetor Markey and then-Congressman Joe Barton sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with questions about the product asking whether or not Amazon maintains data profile of each child and how long their recordings and information are kept. (IANS)

Next Story

Amazon To Empower SMBs in India By Exporting Products Worth $10bn

According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, SMBs in India account for 45 per cent of industrial output, creating employment for 60 million Indians and roughly 1.3 million jobs annually

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Amazon
Amazon wants to make sure that the current perception of the company among the small businesses go away, else this will further call for strict scrutiny from the regulators and protests from small traders. VOA

$1 billion commitment by Amazon to empower small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India is Jeff Bezos’ attempt to change the e-commerce giant’s perception among small businesses which are in a retaliatory mode, industry experts said on Wednesday.

Bezos announced that the e-commerce major, through its global footprint, will help SMBs export products worth $10 billion by 2025. This move is seen as a measure to calm the growing unrest and protests going on under the aegis of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

“Amazon wants to make sure that the current perception of the company among the small businesses go away, else this will further call for strict scrutiny from the regulators and protests from small traders,” Satish Meena, Senior Forecast Analyst with Forrester, told IANS.

Over the next five years, Amazon will invest $1 billion to digitise micro and small businesses in cities, towns and villages across India, helping them reach more customers than ever before, announced Bezos.

According to Meena, this is in line with what Amazon is planning to do in India for the next few years.

“They need partnerships with SMBs for products to cater not only to the Indian customers, but also to customers outside the country,” he said. Amazon said it would establish ‘Digital Haats’ in 100 cities and villages to help businesses integrate into the digital economy.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, SMBs in India account for 45 per cent of industrial output, creating employment for 60 million Indians and roughly 1.3 million jobs annually. “The SMBs, however, are constrained by multiple challenges, including access to skills, talent, finance, and most importantly, digital outreach,” Ram told IANS.

Amazon
$1 billion commitment by Amazon to empower small and medium businesses (SMBs) in India is Jeff Bezos’ attempt to change the e-commerce giant’s perception among small businesses which are in a retaliatory mode, industry experts said on Wednesday. Pixabay

“This is where SMB-centric initiatives, such as Amazon’s commitment, are a welcome initiative to digitally support SMBs, enabling them to gain knowledge, reach their target audience, achieve scale, and while doing so, be able to measure their growth metrics,” Ram said.

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In the end, added Meena, SMBs in India also need handholding in product development, capital investment and access to market. (IANS)