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Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash Credit: Wesley Tingey

Amazon is the latest big tech company getting its knuckles rapped by the US Federal Trade Commission.

It will have to pay $25m in a settlement with the FTC (and the Department of Justice) over charges that it violated the US COPPA Rule on children’s privacy with its Alexa voice assistant.

“Amazon prevented parents from exercising their deletion rights under the COPPA Rule, kept sensitive voice and geolocation data for years, and used it for its own purposes, while putting data at risk of harm from unnecessary access,” claimed the FTC in its announcement of the settlement.

Alongside the fine, Amazon will be required to delete inactive child accounts, and certain voice recordings and geolocation information.

“While we disagree with the FTC’s claims and deny violating the law, this settlement puts the matter behind us,” said Amazon in a statement.

The news follows a £12.7m ($15.8m) fine for TikTok by UK privacy regulator the ICO in April this year, also over its handling of children’s data. That company was previously slapped with a $5.7m settlement in the US in 2019 over COPPA violations by its predecessor Musical·ly (no, not us!)

How stinging is Amazon’s punishment now? Well, $25m is precisely 0.0049% of its $514bn net sales in 2022, but the requirements for changes in its data policies will be the key thing.

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