Amazon Alexa voice biometrics privacy lawsuit judge rules terms of service do not force arbitration

Amazon Alexa voice biometrics privacy lawsuit judge rules terms of service do not force arbitration

A federal judge has ruled that a biometric privacy lawsuit against Amazon over children’s voice recordings does not need to go to arbitration, MediaPost reports.

The case is being heard by a District Court Judge in Seattle, but alleges in a class-action complaint that Amazon’s Alexa violates privacy laws in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington by capturing and storing voiceprints from children without obtaining information from them or their parents.

The tech giant argued that the terms and conditions of Alexa use require disputes to be arbitrated, including disputes with the children of people who agreed to the terms. Agreement with Alexa’s terms of service qualifies as informed consent under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) and other laws, Amazon argued.

Judge Richard Jones wrote that in general, “non-signatories are not bound by arbitration clauses” in rejecting Amazon’s motion.

Requiring arbitration from people who have not themselves agreed to the terms could potentially “lead to absurd results, where any nonregistered user who uses the devices in question could be bound by the arbitration agreement.”

The Center for Digital Democracy and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood complained to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition does not comply with federal Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) last May, shortly before the lawsuit was filed. The FTC complaint alleges the collection of a range of personal information other than biometrics by Amazon without adequate notification or consent collection.

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