Amazon will pay more than $30 million to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to settle two lawsuits over privacy issues—one involving the smart doorbell Ring, which gave customer data to third parties and the second concerning children’s voice and geolocation data accessed through the Alexa virtual assistant Amazon doorbell cameras, Antonio Pequeno IV reported for Forbes.
Photo Insert: FTC said that kids’ speech patterns could have been useful to Amazon since they differ from those of adults, providing an important training dataset for the Alexa algorithm to better respond to kids’ voices.
The first lawsuit—settled for $5.8 million—alleged that Ring did not notify customers or obtain their permission before allowing “thousands of employees and contractors” to watch recordings of customers’ private spaces.
A separate suit settled for $25 million claimed Amazon violated the FTC Act and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by illegally procuring and retaining thousands of children’s voice and geolocation data through Alexa, giving the company “valuable” data to train its algorithms “at the expense of children’s privacy,” FTC said.
FTC said that kids’ speech patterns could have been useful to Amazon since they differ from those of adults, providing an important training dataset for the Alexa algorithm to better respond to kids’ voices.
Amazon assured users that voice recording data collected by Alexa and geolocation information collected by the companion Alexa app could be deleted, but the company ended up keeping that data for years and “indefinitely” kept some recordings and transcripts, using it to improve the Alexa algorithm, according to the FTC complaint.