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Amazon Says Alexa Biometric Privacy Claims Should Be Dismissed

Dec. 10, 2019, 5:29 PM

Amazon.com Inc. wants Illinois biometric privacy claims arbitrated or dismissed because of language in its terms of service, according to a pair of Dec. 9 filings in federal court in the state.

Plaintiffs Bennett Wilcosky and Michael Gunderson claim that Amazon retains their voice recordings through its Alexa device without permission and that the company lacks a data-retention policy in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Amazon’s terms of service show how the information is used and stored, the company said in a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Amazon has also argued the court lacks jurisdiction because the company is based in Washington state.

Amazon’s move to toss the claims or subject them to arbitration may limit its liability under the Illinois law, under which companies may be fined up to $5,000 for each willful violation and $1,000 for each negligent breach. Tech companies are facing multiple potential class actions, as plaintiffs argue they didn’t give consent as required under the Illinois law for use of their biometric data, or that the businesses lacked a data-retention policy.

Representatives for Amazon and the plaintiffs didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Amazon sought to dismiss the action in September and bolstered its claims in December. It asked the court to send the claims to arbitration if it won’t dismiss them, according to court filings.

The plaintiffs are Amazon and Alexa customers who agreed to arbitrate any dispute over company products or services, according to the company.

The plaintiffs are represented by Taxman, Pollock, Murray, & Bekkerman LLC and KamberLaw LLC. Amazon is represented by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The case is: Wilcosky v. Amazon.com, Inc., N.D. Ill., No. 19-cv-05061, reply in support of motions 12/9/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel R. Stoller in Washington at dstoller@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Hughes at jhughes@bloomberglaw.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com