Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition
Remember when long road trips meant drawing an imaginary line down the middle of the backseat and punching your sibling whenever they crossed it? Those days are over. Today there are tablets for kids. Amazon's Fire Kids is a tablet targeted at children ages 3 - 7. It comes with a "kid-proof case" in bright, pretty colors and includes built-in parental controls designed to help parents feel better about giving their kids screen time. Toss in a 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+-, which includes access to a ton of "content kids crave" (which automatically rolls into a $2.99 per month subscription after one year), and you've got your kid squared away for that long drive to Grandma and Grandpa's house.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Amazon proudly states they are not in the business of selling your personal information to others, which is good. However, a good question to ask is, why would Amazon need to sell your data when they have their own advertising and retail juggernaut to use your data to sell you and your child more stuff? Because Amazon is in the business of selling you and your child more stuff. They do say they won’t serve third-party interest-based ads to your child under the age of 13 when they are using an Amazon child profile. So that’s something.
Amazon hopes to collect data on your child with your parental consent. They say they can collect things like name, birthdate, contact information (including phone numbers and e-mail addresses), voice, photos, videos, location; [as well as certain activity and device information and identifiers (such as cookies, device serial numbers, and IP addresses)] of your child when they use this device. They use this information on your child to, among other things, provide personalized offerings and recommendations. Yes, they’re learning about your child to target your child with more stuff they’ll want you to buy.
And Amazon Fire HD Kids tablets come with Alexa always happy to help if you chose to enable the AI. So, what's good with Alexa? Well, they do make it possible to automatically delete voice recordings immediately after they are processed. So it’s good to teach your kid to say, “Hey Alexa, delete everything I said today” after they’ve played with Alexa. That's a nice feature after the controversy around human reviewers listening in to Alexa voice recordings. However, Amazon says when you delete your voice recordings, they still can keep data of the interactions those recordings triggered. And transcripts of recordings, as well as records of actions Alexa took in response to your child’s request may still be stored by Alexa services (like Alexa Skills), even if you have not given permission to collect your child’s personal information.
And then there are Alexa Skills, those little apps you use to interact with Alexa. These Skills can be developed by just about anyone with the, uhm, skill. And with too many of the Skills, third-party privacy policies are misleading, incomplete or simply nonexistent, according to one recent study.When your data is processed by an Alexa Skill, deleting your voice recordings doesn’t delete the data the developer of that Skill collects on you. With over 100,000 Alexa Skills out there, many of them developed by third parties, now your data is floating around in places you might never have imagined.
What’s the worst that could happen? Well, Amazon could get to know your kid's personal information pretty well and try to sell them stuff starting at a young age. Amazon will track your kid's habits unless you opt out--and if you opt out, that means you'll likely lose services and features you probably don't want to lose. You can request Amazon delete your child's data, which is nice. All in all, a product that can potentially collect this much data on young child, even with the protections Amazon puts in place, still worries us enough to say this device could come with *privacy not included.
What can be used to sign up?
Parents should look into privacy controls for child profiles.
What data does the company collect?
Child's name, date of birth, gender, email, phone number
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
In August 2020, security researchers from Check Point pointed out a flaw in Amazon's Alexa smart home devices that could have allowed hackers access to personal information and conversation history. Amazon promptly fixed the bug.
In October 2019, Forbes reported that Amazon employees were listening to Amazon Cloud Cam recording, to train its AI algorithm.
In April 2019, it was revealed that thousands of employees, many of whom are contract workers and some not even directly employed by Amazon, had access to both voice and text transcripts of Alexa interactions.
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Amazon offers separate privacy settings for Fire tablets, and children's privacy disclosure.
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
You will need to create a Child Profile. https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=G3MTGN25XVMNWTFX
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
Amazon Alexa uses natural language processing to understand you and to generate answers to your requests.
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
Got a comment? Let us hear it.