Is your kid safe while using Alexa’s Echo Dot Kids?

Unlike other smart speaker Echo devices, the Echo Dot Kids continually listens for a wake word and then responds to voice commands by recording and processing users’ speech. The difference with this Echo is that it is intended for children to use which makes it a subject to U.S. privacy regulation intended to protect kids from commercial exploitation done online.

amazon-alexa-echo-dot-kids

Alexa Echo Dot Kids

The complaint, argues that the e-commerce giant Amazon is violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by failing to obtain proper consents for the use of kids’ data and provide adequate information to parents about what personal data will be collected from their children when they use the Amazon Echo Dot Kids. It was not told to them that how their information will be used and which third parties it will be shared with, meaning parents do not have enough information to make a clear-cut decision about whether to give consent for their child’s data to be processed.

Accusations on Amazon

Amazon is also accused of providing at best “unclear and confusing” information to parents to obtain consent for children’s information to be collected by third parties. A number of other accusations about Amazon’s device are also being raised.

Amazon released the Echo Dot Kids a year ago and, it was noted that it is essentially a bright duplication of the company’s standard Echo Dot hardware. In parallel, Amazon updated its Alexa smart assistant with added parental controls.

At the time it announced the Echo Dot Kids, Amazon said it had improved its voice assistant to support kid-focused interactions and also trained the AI to understand children’s questions and speech patterns incorporated with new answers targeted specifically at kids.

Just like McAfee, Amazon also offers parents some controls over how their children can interact with the product, but not enough controls over how Amazon and others can interact with their children’s data via the same microphone.

The complaint also said that Amazon tells parents they should review the skill’s policies concerning data collection and use but the investigation found that only about 15% of kid skills provide a link to a privacy policy. Thus, Amazon’s notice to parents related to data collection by third parties appears to discourage parental involvement. They are also objecting on how Amazon is obtaining parental consent saying that its system for doing so is inadequate because it’s merely asking that a credit or debit/debit gift card number is needed.

Another fault is that Amazon is retaining audio recordings of children’s voices far longer than necessary unless a parent actively goes in and deletes the recordings, despite COPPA requiring that children’s data be held for no longer than is reasonably necessary.

Conclusion

A parent must contact Amazon customer service to explicitly request deletion of their child’s entire profile, meaning that to delete all recorded kids’ data a parent has to stop their access to parental controls and their kids’ access to content provided via FreeTime.

If a child uses the “remember” feature of Alexa to ask the AI to remember personal details such as their address and contact details or personal health information like a food allergy can be vulnerable to hacking.

Therefore, it is necessary to take preventive measures if you use any online gadget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *