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Fox Business reports that Amazon has quietly changed its terms of service to allow customers to file lawsuits against it, as opposed to being required to go to arbitration.

The reason for doing so was considerably less quiet:  "Plaintiffs' lawyers flooded Amazon with more than 75,000 individual arbitration demands on behalf of Echo users. That move triggered a bill for tens of millions of dollars in filing fees, according to lawyers involved, payable by Amazon under its own policies … The claims against Amazon followed news reports in 2019 that Alexa devices stored recordings of users. When consumers filed proposed class actions saying the practice violated laws against recording without both parties consenting, Amazon successfully argued the claims belonged in arbitration."

The story notes that "arbitration agreements are buried in the contracts consumers sign to do everything from buying a cellphone to using a ride-hailing app. Many employers also require arbitration for adjudicating issues like pay disputes or discrimination claims. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld and strengthened the rights of companies to mandate arbitration."

Amazon has not commented on the change in its service terms, but continues to maintain that its Alexa-powered devices only record when it use, and that customers have the option of deleting all recordings.

KC's View:

Must be something to get to the point where you actually want lawsuits because the alternative is too expensive.