Amazon Settles with FTC
Amazon reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by agreeing to pay a $25 million civil penalty. The allegations claimed that Amazon violated child privacy laws by retaining voice and location data recorded by its popular voice assistant, Alexa. Stricter privacy measures and data deletion practices are now required to ensure compliance.
Ring Privacy Violations
In addition to the Alexa-related settlement, Amazon has agreed to pay $5.8 million in customer refunds for alleged privacy violations associated with its doorbell camera, Ring. The FTC highlighted lax security practices and unauthorized access to private videos as concerns that prompted this action.
FTC Orders Overhaul
As part of the settlement, the FTC has ordered Amazon to overhaul its data deletion practices and implement more transparent privacy measures. This includes the deletion of certain data collected by Alexa, addressing consumer demands for improved privacy protection.
Violation of COPPA
The FTC’s allegations against Amazon include violations of the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Samuel Levine, the FTC consumer protection chief, stated that Amazon’s actions, such as misleading parents, retaining children’s recordings indefinitely, and ignoring deletion requests, compromised privacy for profits.
COPPA aims to safeguard children from online harm.
Impact on Tech Industry
By taking action against Amazon, the FTC aims to send a clear message to other tech companies racing to develop AI datasets. Amid intense competition, companies are urged to prioritize privacy protection and avoid similar privacy violations associated with voice assistants and smart devices.
While Amazon denies violating the law and disagrees with the FTC’s claims, it has agreed to settle the cases to put the matter behind it. The company maintains that its devices and services are designed to protect customer privacy and offer users control over their experiences.
In addition to the penalties, Amazon is prohibited from using deleted geolocation and voice information to create or improve any data product. The proposed orders are subject to approval by federal judges.
FTC commissioners unanimously voted to file charges against Amazon in both cases, underscoring the significance of the violations and the need for robust privacy protections in the tech industry.