Senators Hawley, Markey, Blumenthal, Durbin Call for FTC Investigation into Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition

Thursday, May 09, 2019

In a bipartisan effort, Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) sent a letter today calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate new evidence of Amazon violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) with its Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition, a digital assistant targeted to children. The device captures the voice recordings of the children who speak to it, and subsequently collects vast amounts of their personal information.

The Senators’ letter highlights evidence that Amazon’s product does not meet COPPA’s notice standard, fails to comply with the Act’s parental consent requirement, and does not effectively allow parents to delete their children’s private information.

“Voice recognition technology and artificial intelligence tools such as the Echo Dot Kids Edition have the potential to enrich and educate kids, including through music and storytelling. But these devices also present significant privacy concerns,” write the Senators in the letter to all five FTC Commissioners. “Children are a uniquely vulnerable population. We urge the Commission to take all necessary steps to ensure their privacy as ‘Internet of Things’ devices targeting young consumers come to market, including promptly initiating an investigation into the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition’s compliance with COPPA.”

A copy of the Senators’ letter can be found here.

COPPA is the current law that covers children age 12 and younger and requires operators of commercial websites and online services directed to children 12 and younger to abide by various privacy safeguards as they collect, use, or disclose personal information about kids. Last updated in 1998, Senators Hawley and Markey have introduced new legislation to improve and update this child privacy law for the 21st century.