Consumers led by Susan Lenehan and Jodi Brust filed a class action complaint in the Western District of Washington on Monday against Amazon.com, Inc. claiming that it wiretapped their Amazon Alexa Devices, leading to violations of federal and state laws.
The complaint explained that an Alexa device, or its affiliated products, are designed to “record the user’s verbal communication” after a trigger word is used. The device then sends the information to Amazon’s servers “which interprets and processes the communication, receives the relevant information, and the Alexa Device responds accordingly to the user.”
The plaintiffs alleged, however, that the Alexa devices “will monitor, intercept, record, and store communications even when users do not say the trigger word.” The complaint claimed that some unauthorized recorded statements include “recorded PIN codes typed into phones, a family’s conversations about medication, and sexually intimate moments.”
Furthermore, the complaint reported that Amazon told Senator Chris Coons that they do not “delete recordings from its servers even if a user chooses to delete his or her recordings.” Amazon has not disclosed the extent to which this information is shared with third parties, and Alexa devices don’t warn users that they are recording until the recording has finished.
The plaintiffs asked to represent a class of all Americans who own Alexa devices and who “had their communications recorded without using the trigger word,” with Lenehan as the class representative for Florida residents and Brust for California residents. The plaintiffs cited violations of the Federal Wiretap Act, violations of the Florida Security of Communications Act, and two violations of the California Invasion of Privacy Act.
The plaintiffs are seeking class certification, a declaration of Amazon’s violations, compensatory, punitive and statutory damages, injunctive relief, and attorney’s fees and costs.