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Amazon hit by Illinois biometric data privacy suit for Alexa recordings

Amazon hit by Illinois biometric data privacy suit for Alexa recordings

A new class action law suit has been filed against Amazon under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act for recording the voices of users and non-users, including children, with its artificial intelligence-powered Alexa virtual personal assistant, the Cook County Record reports.

Alexa records “voiceprints” of all users, and potentially of other speakers within range of the device’s microphone.

The plaintiffs, Bennet Wilcosky, Michael Gunderson, and Gunderson’s 3-year old child, allege Amazon violated BIPA by recording and processing their voiceprints without getting written permission or disclosing the necessary details about the biometrics’ storage, use, and ultimate disposal. According to the complaint, Alexa is installed on more than 147 million devices around the world, including more than 47 million Amazon Echo devices. The plaintiffs are asking for three separate classes to be recognized; one for registered users, one for non-users who were recorded, and one for minors who were recorded.

The complaint notes there are “at least thousands of individuals” who would be included in one or another of the above classes. It asks for $1,000 to $5,000 per violation in damages – the amount specified under BIPA.

A BIPA defendant among the many being sued for using a biometric time and attendance tracking system recently challenged the damages under the Act as “grossly excessive.”

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