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Federal Regulators Fine Amazon $25 Million Over Child Privacy Issues

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The Amazon logo on the base of an Amazon Echo Plus.

Amazon spokeswoman Parmita Choudhury said the company agreed to “remove child profiles that have been inactive for more than 18 months” as part of the settlement.

Credit: David Ryder/The Washington Post

Federal regulators on Wednesday announced Amazon would pay $25 million to settle allegations that its voice assistant Alexa violated a federal law protecting children's privacy — a sign of Washington's mounting scrutiny of the e-commerce giant's sprawling businesses.

Regulators said Wednesday that Amazon failed to delete children's recordings and location information, in some cases before mid-2019 retaining transcripts parents specifically directed Alexa to erase.

More than 800,000 children under the age of 13 have their own Alexa profiles, according to the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission. The voice assistant is especially popular with young children who can't read but can access information and entertainment by talking to the device.

By recording children and using transcripts of those recordings to improve its product even after deletion requests, the U.S. government alleges that Amazon has violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, a law that has recently been enforced against other popular tech companies including Fortnite-maker Epic Games and YouTube.

From The Washington Post
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