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| 1 minute read
Reposted from Taylor English Insights

Amazon Faces $25M in Fines for Alexa Privacy Violations

The FTC and DOJ issued multi-million dollar fines against Amazon in May for misleading/deceptive privacy claims relating to data retention and children's privacy in connection with Alexa devices.  The agencies charge Amazon with keeping Alexa's voice and geolocation recordings well beyond the time limits the company promised, using that data for its own internal purposes that were not disclosed to consumers, and failing to give parents a meaningful way to delete their children's data.  

Why It Matters

Regulators around the world are increasingly focused on children's privacy, on how long companies keep personal data, and on how they re-purpose personal data. Amazon and other similar cases serve as a reminder that kids' data is increasingly off-limits for privacy reasons, something all companies should be aware of as they design products and services. In addition, Amazon's re-use of data (to train its artificial intelligence tools) reminds us that anything the consumer didn't consent to is also off-limits.

Perhaps most importantly, though, this case shows the trouble that can come with keeping data longer than it's actually needed. If you don't have to have something on hand to run your business, you are better off disposing of it according to your data retention schedules. Keeping data for long periods of time increases the risk that you will run afoul of retention time limits, an increasingly popular feature of privacy laws. Keeping data over a long period of time also increases the risk that someone will find a new way to use it -- a way that consumers didn't originally consent to -- and thus create new risks for the company.  

Under the proposed federal court order also filed by DOJ, Amazon will be required to delete inactive child accounts and certain voice recordings and geolocation information and will be prohibited from using such data to train its algorithms. The proposed order must be approved by the federal court to go into effect. According to the complaint, Amazon prominently and repeatedly assured its users, including parents, that they could delete voice recordings collected from its Alexa voice assistant and geolocation information collected by the Alexa app. The company, however, failed to follow through on these promises when it kept some of this information for years and used the data it unlawfully retained to help improve its Alexa algorithm, according to the complaint.


data security and privacy, hill_mitzi, insights, technology, youth services law