Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Amazon Forks Out $30M Settlement for Using Alexa to Spy on Kids

'Amazon’s history of misleading parents, keeping children’s recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents’ deletion requests violated...'

(Ezekiel Loseke, Headline USA) As part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Amazon has agreed to pay a $30 million fine for spying on children and deceiving parents.

The Department of Justice acted at the behest of the FTC when it sued Amazon on Wednesday for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, according to Axios. The act, which was approved with bi-partisan support, prohibited marketing to children without their consent.

The lawsuit focused on Amazon’s use of children’s data it collected as children spoke to Alexa devices, according to the New York Times.

Specifically, regulators accused Amazon of storing children’s voice recordings indefinitely whilst using their data to train its algorithm to interact with and understand children.

Regulators further asserted that Amazon failed to delete children’s data, even after parents requested its deletion.

Samuel Levine, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, issued a statement regarding the suit.

“Amazon’s history of misleading parents, keeping children’s recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents’ deletion requests violated [the privacy rights of children],” he said, adding that Amazon had “sacrificed” kids’ “privacy for profits.”

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, “does not allow companies to keep children’s data forever for any reason, and certainly not to train their algorithms,” Levine scolded, adding that Amazon’s violations were blatant and clear.

The settlement would have Amazon to pay $30 million and would also require Amazon to delete the voice recordings and location data of children. It would further require the company to delete the inactive Alexa accounts that belong to children, and to stop misrepresenting its handling of user’s data.

Amazon was also dinged $5.8 million in consumer refunds for privacy and security violations of the company’s Ring cameras, as part of settling the dispute.

A federal judge must approve of the settlement before the FTC and Amazon may formally accept the terms, though both agreed to the settlement before sending it to the courts.

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