Amazon Settles FTC Allegations Over Child Privacy and Privacy Violations

Amazon Settles FTC Allegations Over Child Privacy and Privacy Violations

By auroraoddi

In a recent development, Amazon has agreed to pay a $US25 million civil penalty to settle allegations made by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that it violated child privacy laws. Also it deceived parents regarding the collection and retention of children’s voice and location data through its popular voice assistant, Alexa.

Additionally, the company will pay $US5.8 million in customer refunds for privacy violations related to its doorbell camera, Ring. This article will delve into the details of the settlements, the implications for Amazon, and the broader implications for the tech industry.

Violations of Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

The FTC accused Amazon of misleading parents and violating COPPA by retaining children’s voice and location data recorded by Alexa for an extended period. The company’s actions were deemed a compromise of privacy for profit.

Samuel Levine, the FTC’s consumer protection chief, stated that Amazon’s history of misleading parents and disregarding deletion requests led to the violation of COPPA, a law designed to protect children from online harms.

Overhaul of Data Deletion Practices and Privacy Measures

As part of the settlement, Amazon is required to revamp its data deletion practices and implement stricter, more transparent privacy measures. This includes deleting specific data collected by Alexa, enhancing privacy controls, and addressing concerns related to the storage and use of children’s data.

The FTC’s order aims to ensure that Amazon takes comprehensive steps to protect user privacy and comply with existing regulations.

Impact on Alexa and Amazon’s Voice Recognition Algorithm

Amazon’s retention of children’s data was allegedly utilized to refine its voice recognition algorithm, which powers Alexa-enabled devices such as the Echo and other smart speakers.

However, the FTC’s order demands the deletion of certain inactive child accounts, as well as voice and geolocation data. The enforcement action highlights the importance of obtaining explicit consent and respecting privacy rights, especially when it comes to sensitive information like children’s voice data.

Privacy Violations by Ring

In addition to the Alexa-related allegations, Amazon’s subsidiary, Ring, faced accusations of privacy violations. The FTC claimed that Ring’s lax security practices allowed unauthorized access to consumers’ private videos, while employees and contractors were granted access to sensitive footage.

The FTC’s order requires Ring to pay $5.8 million for consumer refunds and implement stronger security measures to protect user data.

Amazon’s Response and Future Implications

While Amazon denied violating any laws and disagreed with the FTC’s claims, it has agreed to the settlements to put the matters behind them. The company maintains that its devices and services prioritize customer privacy and control.

However, the settlements will require Amazon to comply with the FTC’s proposed orders, prohibiting the use of deleted geolocation and voice data for data product improvements. Also mandating the establishment of a privacy program for geolocation information.


Amazon’s agreement to pay significant penalties and implement stricter privacy measures in response to the FTC’s allegations showcases the increasing scrutiny faced by tech companies in terms of privacy practices, especially when it comes to children’s data.

This case serves as a reminder to the industry as a whole to prioritize user privacy, obtain explicit consent, and ensure robust data protection measures. As technology continues to advance, striking the balance between innovation and privacy will remain a crucial challenge for companies operating in the digital space.

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