The FTC asked to look into Amazon smart speakers due to child privacy concerns

9 May 2019

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was approached by four US Senators alongside a coalition of 19 civil society organisations (headed by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and the Center for Digital Democracy) to launch an investigation into whether Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The coalition presented the commission with research which exposed, among others, the following vulnerabilities of the system: it is not clear what personal information the device collects, how it uses that information, and whether it shares the information with third parties; Amazon’s system for obtaining parental consent is inadequate and it keeps the audio recordings of children’s voices far longer than necessary; and finally even when parents delete some or all of the recordings of their child, the company does not necessarily delete all of the child’s personal information.

Explore the issues

The Internet of Things (IoT) includes a wide range of Internet-connected devices, from highly digitalised cars, home appliances (e.g. fridges), and smart watches, to digitalised clothes that can monitor health. IoT devices are often connected in wide-systems, typically described as 'smart houses' or 'smart cities'.

Consumer trust is one of the main preconditions for the success of e-commerce. E-commerce is still relatively new and consumers are not as confident with it as with real-world shopping. Consumer protection is an important legal method for developing trust in e-commerce.

Children’s use of the Internet and mobile technology is increasing, and for many children worldwide there is no clear distinction between the online and offline world. Access to the Internet presents many opportunities for their education, personal development, self-expression, and interaction with others.

 

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