Overview

Amazon describes its Alexa product as allowing users to instantly connect to Alexa to play music, control your smart home, and get information, news, weather, and more using just your voice. For Alexa, Amazon's policy states that it will store user messages in the cloud so that they’re available on the user's Alexa App and select Alexa Enabled Products. Amazon's policy explains that it will gather personal information, and the information it learns from customers helps them personalize and continually improve the user's Amazon experience. While the policy describes an account for the initial setup, for "hands free" devices, like the Amazon Echo, a user can access Alexa by saying the wake word (Alexa, Echo, Amazon, or Computer). The policy indicates that parental controls are available, and parents can add or update certain information.

Amazon Alexa can be accessed through its website, and is available for download at the iOS App Store, the Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use used for this evaluation can be found on Amazon Alexa’s website, iOS App Store, the Google Play Store, and Amazon Appstore. Additionally, other policies used for this evaluation include: Children's Privacy Disclosure. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Safety

Amazon's privacy policy notes that users may post reviews, comments, photos, videos, and other content; send e-cards and other communications; and submit suggestions, ideas, comments, questions, or other information. Amazon's policy states that it reserves the right (but not the obligation) to remove or edit such content, but does not regularly review posted content. For Alexa, Amazon's policy states that it will store user messages in the cloud so that they’re available on the user's Alexa App and select Alexa Enabled Products. For children using FreeTime on Alexa, Alexa will play music, answer questions, read stories, tell jokes, and more with younger ears in mind. The policy explains that a parent user can set up and manage their child's FreeTime on Alexa experience by visiting Settings > FreeTime in the Alexa app, and the Amazon Parent Dashboard allows parents to see their child's FreeTime on Alexa activity, including which skills their child has used. Like other voice recordings with Alexa, the policy explains that parents can review and delete FreeTime on Alexa voice recordings by visiting Settings > Alexa Account > History in the Alexa app.

Privacy

Amazon's policy explains that it will gather personal information, and the information it learns from customers helps them personalize and continually improve the user's Amazon experience. For example, the Echo Look device uses photos to recommend new garments that will pair well with the tops and bottom the user wore. In order to receive recommendations, the photo must be taken with the Echo Look device and contain a visible outfit with a top and bottom (they can't currently provide pairing recommendations for dresses). With regard to third parties, Amazon's policy states that they do not have access to, or control over, cookies or other features that advertisers and third party sites may use, and the information practices of these advertisers and third party websites are not covered by their Privacy Notice or this Interest-Based Ads page.

However, Amazon's policy explains that it intends transparency in that a user can tell when a third party is involved, and it intends to minimize sharing in that it shares customer information related to those transactions with that third party. Also, Amazon's policy states that it does not provide any personal information to advertisers or to third party sites that display interest-based ads. Third party providers have access to personal information needed to perform their functions, but may not use it for other purposes. Advertising preferences and customer communication preferences are available to adjust settings for personal information.

Security

For Amazon Alexa products, the policy states that users provide their phone number when registering for Alexa Communication. For security purposes, the policy notes that Amazon will verify this number by sending the user an SMS message (carrier charges may apply). The policy explains that other users who know the user's contact details will be able to contact them using Alexa Communication, and that registration name and contact details may be used to identify the user to other users, and that the user's phone number also may be displayed as a caller ID on outbound calls. While the policy describes an account for the initial setup, for "hands free" devices, like the Amazon Echo, a user can access Alexa by saying the wake word (Alexa, Echo, Amazon, or Computer). For other devices, like certain Fire tablets, the policy details that a person can access Alexa by pressing a button. Amazon's policy states that it works to protect the security of user information during transmission by using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) software, which encrypts information the user inputs.

Compliance

Amazon's policy notes that they offer some services intended for children, and in some cases they may know a child is using the services (for example, when using a child profile). In these situations, the policy notes that children may share and Amazon may collect personal information that requires verifiable parental consent under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (collectively, "Child Personal Information"). However, its policy states that Amazon.com does not sell products for purchase by children, they only sell children's products for purchase by adults. If a user is under 18, the policy insists that user may use Amazon.com only with the involvement of a parent or guardian. In addition, by default, approval will be required for each voice purchase from Amazon through a kid skill before the purchase will be completed. Parents can allow purchases in kid skills without additional approval by changing this default setting in their Alexa app.

Further, Amazon's policy reserves the right (but not the obligation) to remove or edit such content, but also notes that it does not regularly review posted content. The policy indicates that parental controls are available, and parents can add or update certain information. However, Amazon notes that when a user updates information, it usually keeps a copy of the prior version for its records. Finally, the policy details that the company will use child personal information to provide and improve products and services, including personalizing offerings and recommendations for children, communicating information, enforcing parental controls, and giving parents visibility into how their children use products and services.

Overall Score

Every privacy rating includes an overall score. A higher score (up to 100%) means the product provides more transparent privacy policies with better practices to protect user data. The score is best used is as an indicator of how much additional work a person will need to do to make an informed decision about a product.

Basic ScoreFull Score
Comprehensive Assessment7251

Concerns

The privacy evaluation process summarizes the policies of an application or service into concern categories based on a subset of evaluation questions that can be used to quickly identify particular practices of a vendor’s policies. These concerns are composed of evaluation questions that can be used to calculate scores relative to that concern.

ConcernBasic ScoreFull Score
Data Collection: Protecting personal information6760
Data Sharing: Protecting data from third parties10080
Data Security: Protecting against unauthorized access6765
Data Rights: Controlling rights to data8875
Data Sold: Preventing sale of data7530
Data Safety: Promoting responsible use6745
Ads & Tracking: Prohibiting the exploitation of users' decision making process5055
Parental Consent: Protecting children’s personal information10075
School Purpose: Following student data privacy laws00
Individual Control: Controlling data useNA45

Statutes

Each statute or regulation is associated with one or more evaluation questions. As such, we can calculate scores for each statute or regulation using only those questions associated with the statute or regulation. Each specific statute or regulation's score serves as an indirect proxy indicating the likelihood of the application or service satisfying all of its compliance obligations.

StatuteBasic ScoreFull Score
California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA)8158
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)7157
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)6942
Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA)6350
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)8362

Privacy Policy Details

1: Transparency

1.1: Policy Version
  • Privacy policies do indicate a version or effective date.
  • Privacy policies indicate a change log or past policy version is available.
1.2: Policy Notice
  • Users are not notified if there are any material changes to the policies.
  • Privacy policies indicate the method used to notify a user when policies are updated.
1.3: Policy Changes
  • Unclear whether users are notified prior to any material changes to the policies.
  • Changes to the policies are effective immediately and continued use of the product indicates consent.
1.4: Policy Coverage
  • Privacy policies indicate the products that are covered by the policies.
1.5: Privacy Contact
  • Users can contact the company about any privacy policy questions, complaints, or material changes to the policies.
1.6: Policy Principles
  • Privacy policies do indicate privacy principles, layered notices, or a table of contents.
1.7: Policy Language
  • Privacy policies are available in multiple languages.
1.8: Intended Use
  • Intended for children under 13.
  • Intended for teens.
  • Intended for adults over 18.
  • Unclear whether intended for parents or guardians.
  • Unclear whether intended for students.
  • Unclear whether intended for teachers.

2: Focused Collection

2.1: Data Collection
  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected.
  • The categories of collected personally identifiable information are indicated.
  • Geolocation data are collected.
  • Biometric or health data are collected.
  • Interactions, behaviors, or usage analytics data are collected.
  • Sensitive data are collected.
  • Data is automatically collected.
2.2: Data Source
  • Unclear whether personal information or education records are collected from preK-12 students.
  • Personal information from children under 13 years of age is collected.
2.3: Data Excluded
  • Unclear whether specific types of personal information excluded from collection.
  • Unclear whether specific types of collected information are excluded from the privacy policy.
2.4: Data Limitation
  • Collection or use of data is not limited to product requirements.

3: Data Sharing

3.1: Data Shared With Third Parties
  • Collected information is shared with third parties.
  • The categories of information shared with third parties are indicated.
3.2: Data Use by Third Parties
  • The purpose for sharing a user's personal information with third parties is indicated.
  • Data are shared for analytics.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
3.3: Data Not Shared With Third Parties
  • Unclear whether there are specific categories of information that are not shared with third parties.
3.4: Data Sold to Third Parties
  • Personal information is not sold or rented to third parties.
3.5: Third-Party Data Acquisition
  • Personal information about users is obtained from third parties.
3.6: Third-Party Links
  • Unclear whether links to third-party external websites are age-appropriate.
3.7: Third-Party Data Access
  • Third parties are authorized to access a user's information.
3.8: Third-Party Data Collection
  • Personal information of users is collected by a third party.
3.9: Third-Party Data Misuse
  • Unclear whether personal information can be deleted from a third party.
3.10: Third-Party Service Providers
  • Third-party services are used to support the product.
  • The roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
3.11: Third-Party Affiliates
  • The categories of third parties that receive data are indicated.
3.12: Third-Party Policies
  • Links to privacy policies of third-party companies are not available.
3.13: Third-Party Data Combination
  • Unclear whether company may combine data with additional data from third-party sources.
  • Unclear whether data shared with third parties can be combined with other data.
3.14: Third-Party Authentication
  • Unclear whether this product supports third-party login.
  • Unclear whether personal information from third-party login providers is collected.
  • Unclear whether personal Information is shared with third-party login providers.
3.15: De-identified or Anonymized Data
  • Unclear whether user information that is shared is shared in an anonymous or de-identified format.
  • Unclear whether the company describes their de-identification process of user information.
3.16: Third-Party Contractual Obligations
  • Contractual limits are placed on third-party data use.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying or de-identified information.

4: Respect for Context

4.1: Data Use
  • Unclear whether use of information is limited to the purpose for which it was collected.
  • The context or purpose for which data are collected is indicated.
4.2: Data Combination
  • Unclear whether this product treats combined information as personally identifiable information (PII).
4.3: Data Notice
  • Notice is provided if the context in which data are collected changes.
4.4: Data Changes
  • Consent is obtained if the practices in which data are collected change.
4.5: Policy Enforcement
  • Accounts may be terminated if users engage in any prohibited activities.

5: Individual Control

5.1: User Content
  • Users can create or upload content.
5.2: User Consent
  • Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
5.3: Remedy Process
  • A grievance or remedy mechanism is not available for users to file a complaint.
5.4: Data Settings
  • Users can control the use of their information through privacy settings.
5.5: Data Disclosure
  • Users can opt out from the disclosure or sale of their data to a third party.
  • Unclear whether users can request to know what personal information has been shared with third parties.
  • Unclear whether notice is provided in the event the company receives a government or legal request for a user's information.
5.6: Intellectual Property
  • Unclear whether users retain ownership of their data.
  • A copyright license is claimed to data or content collected from a user.
  • Unclear whether any copyright license to a user's data is limited in scope or duration.

6: Access and Accuracy

6.1: Data Access
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.
  • Unclear whether methods are available to restrict who has access to data.
  • Unclear whether the school, parents, or students can review student data.
6.2: Data Integrity
  • Unclear whether the company attempts to maintain the accuracy of data they collect.
6.3: Data Correction
  • Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.
  • Unclear whether the school, parents, or students can modify inaccurate student information.
  • Unclear whether the time period for the company to modify inaccurate data is indicated.
6.4: Data Retention
  • A data-retention policy is available.
  • Exceptions to the data retention policy exist.
6.5: Data Deletion
  • Data are deleted when no longer necessary.
  • A user's data are deleted upon account cancellation or termination.
  • Processes to delete user data are available.
  • Processes for authorized users to delete data are available.
  • The time period for the company to delete data is indicated.
6.6: Data Portability
  • Processes to download user data are available.
  • Unclear whether a user can assign an authorized account manager or legacy contact.

7: Data Transfer

7.1: Data Handling
  • User information can be transferred to a third party in the event of a merge, acquisition, or bankruptcy.
  • Unclear whether notice is provided to users if the company assigns its rights or delegates its duties to another company.
  • Unclear whether users are notified if their information is transferred to a third party.
7.2: Transfer Request
  • Unclear whether user information can be deleted prior to its transfer to a third party.
7.3: Onward Contractual Obligations
  • Unclear whether third-party transfers are contractually required to use the same privacy practices.

8: Security

8.1: User Identity
  • A user's identity is verified with additional personal information.
8.2: User Account
  • Account creation is required.
  • Managed accounts are available.
  • Unclear whether multi-factor account protection is available.
8.3: Third-Party Security
  • Unclear whether third-parties with access to information are required to provide the same security protections as the company.
8.4: Data Confidentiality
  • Reasonable security practices are used to protect data.
  • Employee or physical access to user information is limited.
8.5: Data Transmission
  • All data in transit are encrypted.
8.6: Data Storage
  • All data are stored in an encrypted format.
  • The company is clear what jurisdiction a user's personal information is subject to.
8.7: Data Breach
  • Unclear whether this product provides notice in the event of a data breach.
8.8: Data Oversight
  • Unclear whether this product performs data-privacy and/or security-compliance audits.

9: Responsible Use

9.1: Social Interactions
  • Users can interact with trusted users.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information must be shared for social interactions.
9.2: Data Visibility
  • Personal information can be displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed to others.
9.3: Monitor and Review
  • User-created content is reviewed, screened, or monitored by the company.
  • Unclear whether user-created content is filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
  • Unclear whether social interactions between users are moderated.
  • Unclear whether social interactions of users are logged.
9.4: Report Content
  • Unclear whether users can filter or block inappropriate content.
  • Unclear whether users can report abuse or cyberbullying.
9.5: Internet Safety
  • Unclear whether the company provides links to resources that support safe and appropriate social interactions.

10: Advertising

10.1: Vendor Communications
  • A user can receive service- or administrative-related communications from the company.
10.2: Traditional Advertising
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
10.3: Behavioral Advertising
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.
10.4: Ad Tracking
  • Data are collected by third-parties for their own purposes.
  • User's information is used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for personalised advertisements.
10.5: Filtered Advertising
  • Ads displayed to children are filtered for inappropriate content.
10.6: Marketing Communications
  • The company can send marketing messages.
  • Unclear whether this company provides promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
10.7: Unsubscribe
  • Users can opt out of contextual, or personalised advertising.
  • Users can opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
10.8: Do Not Track
  • Unclear whether this product responds to "Do Not Track" or other opt-out mechanisms.
  • Unclear whether the company provides a method for users to opt-out from third-party tracking.

11: Compliance

11.1: Children Under 13
  • Company does have actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • The company does provide a section, heading, or separate policy for children in their policies.
  • Unclear whether this product restricts or prohibits account creation for users under 13 years of age.
11.2: Students in K–12
  • Unclear whether this product is primarily used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades preK–12.
  • Processes to enter education records into the product are not described.
  • Unclear whether additional rights or protections may be provided with an additional school contract.
  • Unclear whether the company is designated as a school official.
11.3: Parental Consent
  • Parental consent is required before personal information is collected or disclosed.
  • Unclear whether this product limits parental consent with respect to third parties.
  • Parents can withdraw consent for the further collection of their child's information.
  • Children's personal information is deleted if collected without parental consent.
  • Parental consent notice and method for submission are provided.
  • Unclear whether this product transfers parental consent obligations to the school or district.
11.4: Legal Requirements
  • The legal jurisdiction that applies to the laws governing the policies is indicated.
  • Unclear whether a user is required to waive the right to a jury trial, or settle any disputes by arbitration.
  • Unclear whether a user is required to waive the right to join a class action lawsuit.
  • A company will disclose personal information to law enforcement.
11.5: Certification
  • Unclear whether the company has signed a privacy pledge or received a privacy certification.
11.6: International Laws
  • A user's data are subject to International data transfer or jurisdiction laws.
  • Unclear whether the company has indicated it is a Data Controller or Data Processor.