US: Amazon faces lawsuits over recording of children’s voices

Amazon is facing two lawsuits in the US over its storage of children’s voices through its Alexa product, The Register reports.

The lawsuits have been lodged in courts in California and Washington by guardians of the unnamed children, aged eight and 10.

The actions allege that Amazon is profiting illegally from the analysis of requests and commands made by minors.

They argue that while “most people believe that when they speak to an Alexa-enabled device, it converts their voice into a set of digital computer instructions… They do not expect that Alexa is creating and storing permanent recording of their voice.”

It is also alleged that Amazon is using permanent recordings “for its own commercial benefit”.

The web giant, it is claimed, is “creating voiceprints of users, which can be used to identify them when they speak to other devices in other locations”, and is thereby creating a “massive database of voice recordings containing the private details of millions of Americans”.

In Washington and California, there are specific laws that prohibit the recording of oral communication without the consent of the people involved.

“There is a large group of individuals who do not consent to be recorded when using an Alexa-enabled device and who use Alexa without any understanding or warning that Amazon is recording and voice printing them: children,” states the lawsuit.

It adds: “It takes no great leap of imagination to be concerned that Amazon is developing voiceprints for millions of children that could allow the company (and potentially governments) to track a child’s use of Alexa-enabled devices in multiple locations and match the uses with a vast level of detail about the child’s life, ranging from private questions they have asked Alexa to the products that have used in their homes.”

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