Amazon sued for Alexa, Ring privacy violations 

The Associated Press reports that Amazon agreed Wednesday to pay a $25 million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations it violated a child privacy law and deceived parents; it did so by keeping for years kids’ voice and location data recorded by its Alexa voice assistant.

Separately, the company agreed to pay $5.8 million in customer refunds for alleged privacy violations involving its doorbell camera, Ring.

The Alexa-related action orders Amazon to overhaul its data deletion practices and impose stricter, more transparent privacy measures. It also obliges the tech giant to delete certain data collected by its internet-connected digital assistant, which people use for everything from checking the weather to playing games and queueing up music.

The agency ordered the company to delete inactive child accounts as well as certain voice and geolocation data. Amazon says it kept the kids’ data to refine its voice recognition algorithm, the artificial intelligence behind Alexa, which powers Echo and other smart speakers.

In the Ring case, the FTC says Amazon’s home security camera subsidiary let employees and contractors access consumers’ private videos and provided lax security practices that enabled hackers to take control of some accounts.

Amazon bought California-based Ring in 2018, and many of the violations alleged by the FTC predate the acquisition.