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US Lawmakers Want FTC To Probe Alexa For Kids

The Echo device by Amazon is facing intense scrutiny over its handling of the private information of children.

US Senators on Thursday called for the FTC to start an investigation over whether the Echo edition, aimed at kids, was violating the COPPA Act. Amazon holds that the device is in compliance with COPPA norms, in a statement to CNN Business.

Amazon declared in a blog post that the device was created after taking inputs from FOSI and other such groups, and had followed all necessary practices for obtaining parental consent. Echo devices require parental consent for complete operation and a child’s profile and recordings can easily be deleted. The kids’ safety was the highest priority while designing this model.

COPPA is intended to secure data of minors under 12. It imposes several restrictions over the use, collection or sharing of data when it is about children under 12.

Several senators like Josh Hawley, Dick Durbin, Richard Bluementhal and Edward Markey are of the opinion that Amazon does not comply with COPPA requirements and that parents could not delete their kids’ data securely enough.

Featuring a more child-friendly model of Alexa, this model can tell jokes, read stories, answer questions and play music. It is also alleged to capture enormous amounts of personal data of the kids and their recordings, as per the senators.

19 public health and consumer advocates have requested the Federal Trade Commission to probe the affair more closely on Thursday. Many notable groups have been vocal in their demand for an FTC probe.

Senator Markey has also expressed his concern over this issue before. Last year, in May, he and Joe Barton had questioned Jeff Bezos about his product. They asked whether a data-based profile of children was kept by Amazon and whether information and recordings of the children were retained after use by the company.