That law, known as COPPA, requires online services aimed at people younger than 13 to obtain parental consent before collecting a child’s personal details and to allow parents to have their children’s data deleted. But even after parents sought to delete their children’s voice recordings, Amazon failed to delete transcripts of the children’s conversations with Alexa from all its databases, regulators said.
“Amazon’s history of misleading parents, keeping children’s recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents’ deletion requests violated” the children’s online privacy law and “sacrificed privacy for profits,” Samuel Levine, director of the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. “COPPA does not allow companies to keep children’s data forever for any reason, and certainly not to train their algorithms.”
The complaint also charged Amazon with deceiving consumers, including parents, by repeatedly assuring users they could delete data, like their Alexa voice recordings, yet failed to adequately honor users’ deletion requests.
Though it agreed to settle the charges, Amazon said it disagreed with the F.T.C.’s claims and denied violating the children’s law.
“We built Alexa with strong privacy protections and customer controls,” the company said in a statement. The statement added that the company had designed Amazon Kids, a service that enables parents to manage games, books and other content for their children, to comply with the children’s online privacy law, and that Amazon had worked with the F.T.C. before expanding the children’s content service to include Alexa.