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Amazon settles suit over retention of kids’ voice data

Amazon settles suit over retention of kids’ voice data

The U.S. Department of Justice says Amazon will pay a comparatively modest civil penalty for allegedly violating multiple laws and regulations governing how businesses protect children’s privacy.

Amazon agreed last week to pay the $25 million penalty.

The company, which was named in the suit (case 2:23-cv-00811) along with a services subsidiary, said it denied any wrongdoing and settled only in the interest of closing the matter, according to trade publication Bleeping Computer.

Executives will not be able to forget the decision, however, as it will have to comply with internal reporting, sworn under penalty of perjury, on the matter for a decade to ensure there is no repetition.

The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission this spring sued based on complaints that Amazon “deceived parents and users” of the company’s Alexa assistant service about how data was destroyed, in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

The alleged deception was the slow pace with which Amazon responded to requests to destroy children’s voice and geolocation data. According to the suit, the company was keeping transcripts and was not telling the public, violations of COPPA.

Amazon markets Alexa to parents as a way of helping children “learn and grow.” Software called Kids enables parents to choose use rules designed to prevent minors from encountering disturbing content or being targeted by companies or broadly acknowledged dangers online.

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