This is huge. This week, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with Amazon for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the only law protecting kids online. In a clear violation of the law, Amazon indefinitely kept the data it collected on children through its Alexa voice assistant and misled parents who believed they were deleting their child’s data from Amazon’s servers.
Fairplay and our partners at the Center for Digital Democracy first alerted the FTC to Amazon’s violations of COPPA in 2019. We filed a complaint that documented how when parents requested that Amazon delete voice recordings of their child, the company deleted the recordings but still kept transcripts of the conversations. Not only that, but Amazon then used that data to target kids!
A few months after our filing, the FTC contacted Amazon. The Commission’s subsequent investigation not only confirmed our findings but uncovered additional COPPA violations. Most notably, the FTC found that Amazon kept the data collected through Alexa forever, despite the fact that COPPA requires platforms to delete kids’ data once it is no longer needed for the original purpose for which it was collected.
The FTC’s settlement not only requires Amazon to delete this data but also that the company refrain from using the data to train its algorithms, a huge win for children’s privacy. The settlement also requires Amazon to pay a $25 million civil penalty to address their wrongdoing.
We’re thrilled that the FTC acted on our complaint and is holding Amazon accountable for its downright creepy violations of children’s privacy. This settlement sends a clear message to all platforms and marketers who abuse children’s data: breaking the law and violating kids’ privacy aren’t just a cost of doing business.
Fairplay’s advocacy played a critical role in this victory -- without our investigation into Alexa, Amazon would still be breaking the law and using kids’ ill-gotten data to their own ends.
Our work is making a huge difference in the lives of kids and families - we’re holding corporations accountable when others won’t, fighting for the legislation young people need for a safer internet, connecting grassroots activists, and so much more. But we couldn’t do any of this without your support.