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April 25, 2021

9th Circ. Won’t Let Amazon Arbitrate Kids’ Alexa Privacy Suit

On Friday, Keller Lenkner secured an important victory on behalf of minors who were recorded by Amazon’s voice-activated Amazon Alexa devices without consent. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled that Amazon must answer the minors’ claims in court because they never signed Amazon’s terms of service and thus cannot be compelled to arbitration.

The panel determined that the minors, who are nonsignatories to the contracts in question, cannot be compelled into arbitration because they are not trying to enforce any rights or duties formed by the contracts Amazon holds with their parents.

In its opinion, the panel wrote: “Plaintiffs bring only state statutory claims that do not depend on their parents’ contracts. In other words, irrespective of those agreements, Amazon would owe to plaintiffs the legal duty that plaintiffs claim has been violated.”

Keller Lenkner partner Warren Postman argued the case in the Ninth Circuit. Our complaint, filed with co-counsel Quinn Emanuel, alleges that Amazon makes, analyzes, and retains voice recordings of minors for its commercial benefit, in violation of state privacy laws. Children do not consent to be recorded and use Amazon Alexa without understanding or warning that Amazon is recording and voiceprinting them. And Amazon’s terms of service fail to obtain consent from the children’s parents or guardians.

The minors are represented by Warren Postman of Keller Lenkner LLC. The case is B.F. et al. v. Amazon.com Inc. et al., case number 20-35359, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Click here to read the full story on Law360.com (subscription required).