Judge Rejects Arbitration for Amazon in Lawsuit Over Recording Kids

In a class action lawsuit of parents suing Amazon for recording their children without consent, Amazon lawyers have claimed that anyone using Alexa has entered a contract, allowing for arbitration rather than a lawsuit. However, U.S Magistrate Judge Michelle Peterson denied this claim, preventing arbitration and continuing with the class action law suit, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune.

The suit’s plaintiffs are 23 children whose parents entered a contact with Amazon, but according to the judge, the children are not under contract, even if they have used or benefitted from the use of Alexa. In a report attached to her proposed order, Peterson wrote that if everyone who used Alexa was automatically under contract with Amazon, it would lead to “absurd results, as even a casual visitor to a residence could be bound by an agreement without notice”.

Alexa Contracts
The judge decided that not everyone who uses Alexa is under contract requiring arbitration.

Alexa Causes Privacy Concerns

This is not the first time that Amazon has been criticized for recording people without their knowledge. In March of 2018, a woman from Portland said Alexa recorded a private conversation and sent it to one of her contacts. Amazon claimed that the Echo thought it heard the wake word “Alexa,” and then incorrectly interpreted background noise, saying this this event was “unlikely”. Amazon also encountered criticism when it was revealed that Amazon employees listen to users’ recordings in order to improve the voice assistant’s artificial intelligence capabilities.

In response, members of the California state legislature proposed the “Anti-Eavesdropping Act,” which could require users to consent to tech companies storing their voice recordings. Jordan Cunningham, a Republican assemblyman, received bipartisan support from many Democrats as well as support from his constituents in San Luis Obispo County,

“I’ve heard from constituents they widely support the idea that their personal conversations that occur in the intimacy of their home should remain private…and they’re not giving permission to a company to store and retain those recordings by buying a speaker.”

As of July 2019, the bill received 44 to six ayes to noes on the Assembly Floor and nine ayes from the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.

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