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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Alexa-enabled devices record children's voices without consent, lawsuit filed by 10-year-old girl claims


By Carrie Bradon | Jun 21, 2019


SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) – A 10-year-old Massachusetts minor and her parent are filing a class action lawsuit against Amazon over allegations that Alexa-enabled devices violate wiretapping laws by recording children’s voices without their consent.

C.O., a minor by and through her guardian Alison Hall-O’Neil, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed a complaint on June 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Inc. and A2Z Development Center Inc., alleging violation of the Massachusetts Wiretap Statute and similar laws in other states.

The suit states C.O.'s home has had an Alexa Echo Dot since August 2018 and that C.O. interacted with the device daily but was not a registered user. She alleges because she is not a registered user, she never agreed to allow her communications with the device be recorded.

The plaintiff alleges that after Alexa processes a command, Amazon saves a permanent recording of the user's voice to its own servers and uses them for its commercial benefit.

"Amazon purports to obtain consent to record individuals who set up an Alexa-enabled device," the suit states. "But 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 voiceprinting them: children."

The suit states that Amazon did not warn the plaintiff that Alexa-enabled devices would create "persistent" recordings and that she and class members "reasonably expected" that their interaction would be private.

The plaintiff is seeking trial by jury; that Amazon delete all recordings of class members; nominal, statutory and punitive damages; litigation expenses and attorneys’ fees; interest and other relief deemed fit. The plaintiff is represented by Andrew S. Brown, Andrew Schapiro and Stephen Swedlow of Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan LLP in Seattle and Chicago; and Ashley C. Keller, Travis D. Lenkner and J. Dominick Larry of Kelly Lenkner LLC in Chicago; and Warren D. Postman of Keller Lenkner LLC in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington case number 2:19-CV-00910

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Amazon.comU.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington

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