U.S. senators say Amazon smart speaker for kids violates privacy law

An undated handout image of Amazon's Echo Dot Kids Edition. Amazon/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four U.S. senators urged the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday to investigate Inc’s smart speakers aimed at children, claiming the devices violate a privacy law that protects children.

Senators Edward J. Markey, Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin and Josh Hawley asked for the probe, saying the smart speakers captured information about the children, allegedly in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Amazon denied any wrongdoing. “FreeTime on Alexa and Echo Dot Kids Edition are compliant” with the act, an Amazon spokeswoman said.

The senators said in a letter the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition does not comply with COPPA because it does not live up to parental consent requirements and does not allow parents to delete private information about their children.

“Children are a uniquely vulnerable population,” the senators wrote in the letter. “We urge the commission to take all necessary steps to ensure their privacy as ‘Internet of Things’ devices targeting young consumers come to market, including promptly initiating an investigation into the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition’s compliance with COPPA.”

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe