Amazon Asks for Court’s Help Obtaining Evidence in ‘Alexa’ Invasion of Privacy Suit

Amazon filed a motion to compel discovery responses last Thursday from the nearly two-dozen plaintiffs litigating a voice recognition technology abuse case against it. Without information about the allegedly wrongful voice recordings made by Amazon’s virtual voice assistant “Alexa,” the defendant argues it cannot meaningfully defend the privacy-oriented class claims pending against it.

The lawsuit proceeding in Seattle, Wash. was slashed substantially when, in May, the court dismissed many of the claims alleging that Alexa secretly recorded the plaintiffs. More recently, the court issued a discovery opinion siding in part with Amazon in finding that it did not need to produce documents dating to earlier than the parties’ previously agreed-upon timeframe.

Now, Amazon has moved to compel information from the plaintiffs, who have allegedly made it difficult for Amazon to get the information it needs, producing only 149 documents from four custodians to date, and providing incomplete or non-responsive answers, or refusing to answer interrogatories altogether.

Amazon says it offered to ease the burden on the plaintiffs by allowing them to annotate Alexa transcripts to, among other things, identify which recordings contain a plaintiff’s voice, confidential conversations, and correspond to allegations in the complaint, but to no avail. Without the information, Amazon says it “does not know the universe of recordings at issue, and consequently cannot prepare its defenses or address Plaintiffs’ suitability as class representatives.”

The company points to the upcoming start of depositions, and in December, the close of fact discovery as reasons for its urgency. “Plaintiffs are the bottleneck, and the Court should compel them to provide discovery now to move this case forward,” the motion concludes.   

Labaton Sucharow LLP and Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP are interim co-lead class counsel and Fenwick & West LLP represents Amazon.