Amazon smart speakers that collect data on children could lead to government lawsuits

A Federal Trade Commission complaint could lead the US government to sue Amazon over data on children the retail giant has collected through its line of smart speakers, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday.

At issue is whether Amazon’s Alexa-powered smart speaker series collected data on children under 13 without parental consent and retained it even after users attempted to delete it, which Children’s advocacy organizations asked the FTC to review in 2019, the report says.

Now the FTC is now recommending filing a complaint that Amazon failed to confirm parental consent before collecting data and that most Alexa activities designed for children lacked privacy policies, sources said. at Bloomberg. The Justice Department could take the next step and file a lawsuit against Amazon next month.

Amazon’s lawsuit comes amid an FTC crackdown on data collection in recent years under President Lina Khan, including fining the company formerly known as Weight Watchers for allegedly incorrectly stored information about children. The commission also ordered Fortnite creator Epic Games to pay $520 million in fines and reimbursements for tricking children into making in-game purchases and violating their privacy.

The growing attention in the technology industry has raised awareness of the amount of data collected and stored by home appliances. Affected owners can change their settings to increase privacy around their Amazon Echo speakers and other devices from Apple and Google.

If the lawsuit were to find Amazon at fault, it’s unclear how much it could be forced to pay in penalties. While Amazon claimed to be in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), if it is found to have violated these rules dictating how children’s data should be protected, the company could pay $50,000 per affected child, according to Politico.

Amazon declined to comment. The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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