Amazon Sued Over Alexa Audio Recording

On Monday, a group of consumers brought a lawsuit against Amazon regarding “smart speakers” and other devices that use Amazon’s voice recording technology. The plaintiffs claimed that Amazon illegally obtained and saved audio recordings of nonconsenting parties under state laws in Massachusetts, California, New Hampshire, and Florida, and failed to make this clear to those who used its smart speakers or who were recorded during someone else’s use.

These products are designed to respond to “wake words” which cause the Amazon recording technology to begin, however, other words have also succeeded in turning on the recording technology. False wake words have allegedly resulted in upwards of 100 recordings a day being obtained by Amazon. Amazon allegedly also has additional recordings from instances that were initiated correctly but that picked up information from non consenting parties.

The plaintiffs encompass a subclass of residents from each of the four states who have been recorded by Amazon recording devices not owned or operated by themselves and who never consented to these recordings. The plaintiffs reported that they wish for the matter to proceed as a class action because there are thousands of people within the subclasses that also have substantial reason for compensation.

According to the lawsuit, Amazon’s audio storage has no functional use when it comes to improving customer experience, and therefore is being used explicitly for Amazon’s commercial gain.

While the statute of limitations on these laws currently range from one to four  years, the plaintiffs argued that these limitations should be lifted since Amazon made it impossible for customers to reasonably discover the extent to which they were being recorded.

The plaintiffs requested that Amazon provide a consent form before recording and that all files be permanently deleted. They also asked to be compensated financially for nominal, statutory, and punitive damages for the class and for legal fees.

The plaintiffs are represented by Byrnes Keller Cromwell.