Echo Dot must have seemed like a really good idea, at least to some people, but then the privacy concerns surfaced.
It appears that Echo Dot records what children say, saves that personal information, and apparently, it’s still saved even after parents delete It. A group of child advocacy organizations has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FCC), and they are supported in a detailed letter from a bipartisan group of United States Senators. Amazon insists that they need to collect the recordings to improve the device.
Um, all our kids’ comments and ideas stored for posterity — I mean Amazon? Growing kids say lots of things that they quickly realize they shouldn’t have said. Ask any teacher. Those archived recordings may contain comments that most parents did not even know their kids say. Just imagine the out-of-this-world corporate data trove provided by all those children. Whatever happened to COPPA?
Below are a few articles to help adults learn more about the kids’ personal assistant privacy issue and how it may affect children.
- Amazon’s Kid-Friendly Echo Dot Is Under Scrutiny for Alleged Child Privacy Violations — The Verge
- Amazon’e Echo for Kids Violated Privacy Law, Advocacy Groups Say — Bloomberg
- Consumer Groups Accuse Amazon of Illegally Collecting Data on Children — Washington Post
- Warning for Parents: That Echo Dot May Be Illegally Recording Your Kids — Kim Komando website
- Amazon Slammed for Putting Kids at Rick With “Blatant Violation of Privacy Laws” — Forbes
- Amazon’s Smart Speaker for Kids Reportedly Stores Sensitive Information Even After Parents Delete It — VOX
- Amazon accused of Secretly Recording Kids With Echo Dot — USA Today
The Echo Dot has all the makings of a gadget that aims to substitute, in all sorts of ways, for an adult, but one wonders if that is such a great idea. Sure it replies to please and thank-you and can read hundreds of stories. Yes, it can wake kids up, be turned off during homework times, and serve as an intercom or music player. A random check around the web finds parents who rave about the wonders of the device.
But why buy one? If we want children of all ages to become thoughtful digital citizens and skillful problem solvers, aren’t there better things they can be doing?
Nota bene: As an extra bonus, here’s an article about Alexa, the personal assistant for adults, written by Washington Post tech columnist, Geoffrey Fowler. The article notes that some courts have issued warrants for Alexa recordings.