Is Your Kid's Amazon Echo Illegally Collecting Information About Them?

Amazon Echo Dot

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey is among the lawmakers calling on the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation into evidence that Amazon could be violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) with the Echo Dot Kids Edition.

WBZ NewsRadio’s Kendall Buhl spoke with technology journalist Larry Magid about the devices:

On what COPPA entails

“That was a law that was passed, or at least signed into law in, I believe, 1998, which requires commercial services to have verifiable parental consent before a child can reveal any personally identified information. And it was mainly designed to keep kids from becoming sucked up in marketing campaigns so that a commercial operator couldn’t get their information and then market to them. But, it’s been extended to some extent beyond that, and revised to apply not just to websites, but essentially all electronic devices, including by implication devices like the Amazon Echo,” Magid said.

On how devices like the Echo Dot Kids Edition could violate COPPA

“The principle is that that information should be easily deletable. But according to several researchers, they found that the information remains even after the parent attempts to delete it,” Magid said.

On how he doesn’t believe the devices are meant to be nefarious

“I don’t think that Jeff Bezos and other people at Amazon are sitting around building databases about children for the purpose of manipulating them. But it is technically, and I think in the spirit, a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Parents want the assurances that what their child says to these devices is kept between the child and the parent, or just the child,” Magid said.

On how it’s not just the Echo Dot Kids Edition

“We’re talking about Echo right now, but there’s things like dolls that children talk to and sometimes share intimate thoughts with. So, as we go into a world where more and more devices in our homes are listening, and in some cases literally watching, we need to have assurances that what happens in our home stays in our home unless the adults choose to share it,” Magid said.

Listen to WBZ NewsRadio’s Kendall Buhl’s (@KBuhlWBZ) full conversation with Larry Magid:

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