FTC and DOJ Charge Amazon with Violating Children’s Privacy Law by Keeping Kids’ Alexa Voice Recordings Forever and Undermining Parents’ Deletion Requests

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The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice will require Amazon to overhaul its deletion practices and implement stringent privacy safeguards to settle charges the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA Rule) and deceived parents and users of the Alexa voice assistant service about its data deletion practices.  

According to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC, 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.

“Amazon’s history of misleading parents, keeping children’s recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents’ deletion requests violated COPPA and sacrificed privacy for profits,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “COPPA does not allow companies to keep children’s data forever for any reason, and certainly not to train their algorithms.”

Under the proposed federal court order also filed by DOJ, Amazon will be required to delete inactive child accounts and certain voice recordings and geolocation information and will be prohibited from using such data to train its algorithms. The proposed order must be approved by the federal court to go into effect.

According to the complaint, Amazon prominently and repeatedly assured its users, including parents, that they could delete voice recordings collected from its Alexa voice assistant and geolocation information collected by the Alexa app. The company, however, failed to follow through on these promises when it kept some of this information for years and used the data it unlawfully retained to help improve its Alexa algorithm, according to the complaint.

Amazon, one of the world’s biggest retailers, collects vast amounts of data about consumers ranging from their geolocation data via the company’s Alexa app to their voice recordings collected by Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant service. The company claims that its Alexa service and Echo devices are “designed to protect your privacy” and that parents and other users can delete geolocation data and voice recordings.

Amazon also offers Alexa-enabled devices and services targeted to children and collects personal data, including voice recordings, from children. Amazon retained children’s recordings indefinitely—unless a parent requested that this information be deleted, according to the complaint. And even when a parent sought to delete that information, the FTC said, Amazon failed to delete transcripts of what kids said from all its databases.

The COPPA Rule requires, among other things, that an operator of a commercial website or online service directed to children under 13 years of age notify parents about the information they collect from children, obtain parents’ consent for the collection of that data, and allow them to delete that information at any time. In addition, such a service is prohibited from retaining the information collected from children under 13 for longer than is reasonably necessary to provide the service.

Amazon claimed it retained children’s voice recordings in order to help it respond to voice commands, allow parents to review them, and to improve Alexa’s speech recognition and processing capabilities, according to the complaint. Children’s speech patterns and accents differ from those of adults, so the unlawfully retained voice recordings provided Amazon with a valuable database for training the Alexa algorithm to understand children, benefitting its bottom line at the expense of children’s privacy.

The FTC said the company failed to put in place an effective system to ensure that it honored users’ data deletion requests and to give parents meaningful notice about deletion. Even when Amazon discovered its failures to delete geolocation data, the FTC said that Amazon repeatedly failed to fix the problems.

Proposed Order

In addition to the data deletion requirement in the proposed order, Amazon will be required to pay a $25 million civil penalty. Other provisions of the proposed order:

  • Prohibit Amazon from using geolocation, voice information, and children’s voice information subject to consumers’ deletion requests for the creation or improvement of any data product;
  • Require the company to delete inactive Alexa accounts of children;
  • Require Amazon to notify users about the FTC-DOJ action against the company;
  • Require Amazon to notify users of its retention and deletion practices and controls;
  • Prohibit Amazon from misrepresenting its privacy policies related to geolocation, voice and children’s voice information; and
  • Mandate the creation and implementation of a privacy program related to the company’s use of geolocation information.

The Commission voted 4-0 to refer the complaint to the Department of Justice for filing. The Commission vote closed on a date prior to Commissioner Christine S. Wilson’s departure from the agency. She issued a concurring statement on the matter before departing the agency. Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya also issued a separate statement, joined by FTC Chair Lina M. Khan and Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. 

The Department of Justice filed the complaint and the stipulated order in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

NOTE: The Commission authorizes the filing of a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendant is violating or is about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

The lead staff attorneys on this matter are Elisa Jillson, Andy Hasty, and Julia Horwitz from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Today’s announcement underscores the FTC’s commitment to protecting not only children’s privacy but the privacy of all consumers. Earlier today, the FTC announced an action against Amazon’s subsidiary, Ring, over charges that the home security camera company compromised its customers’ privacy by allowing any employee or contractor to access consumers’ private videos and by failing to implement basic privacy and security protections, enabling hackers to take control of consumers’ accounts, cameras, and videos.

Official news published at https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2023/05/ftc-doj-charge-amazon-violating-childrens-privacy-law-keeping-kids-alexa-voice-recordings-forever

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Hanna Interpreting Services Awarded Comparably’s Best Company for Work-Life Balance

Hanna Interpreting Services, a premier language services provider, is proud to announce its recognition by Comparably as one of the best companies for work-life balance. This honor is a testament to the company’s unwavering commitment to employee well-being and its innovative approach to fostering a harmonious work environment.

Comparably’s accolade assesses factors such as employee satisfaction with work-life balance, average hours worked per day, lunch break lengths, and overall feelings of burnout. Hanna Interpreting Services' dedication to creating an environment that melds productivity with personal time has made it stand out in this evaluation.

A significant contributor to this balance is the company's hybrid working model, where employees merge the best of both worlds by working remotely for three weeks and in the office for one week every month. This flexibility allows team members to maintain their personal lives while still fostering in-person collaboration. Hanna also ranked among the top 35% of companies for diversity and in the top 40% for gender balance.

"It's a balance we've been striving to achieve, especially in these dynamic times," says President Tom Elias Hanna. "We understand the challenges presented by both remote work and the need to be in-office."

September is a monumental month for Hanna Interpreting Services. In addition to the Comparably award, the company celebrated its 13th anniversary on September 9, marking over a decade of industry leadership and commitment to bridging linguistic barriers. The month also saw the inauguration of a brand-new office space, showcasing the company’s dedication to growth and serving as a hub for innovation and team collaboration.

As Hanna Interpreting Services continues to evolve and set benchmarks in the industry, the core values remain consistent: a commitment to bridging language barriers, a dedication to employee well-being, and a vision to be the most trusted name in language services.

Founded in 2010 by mother and son duo Jennifer Hanna and Tom Elias Hanna in their garage, Hanna has grown to more than 70 employees, served 1.1 million clients to date in 250+ languages, and has sponsored countless outreach events to serve the local community.

For more information about Hanna Interpreting Services or to schedule an interview, please contact Sean Spicer, Revenue Operations Manager, at Sean.Spicer@HannaIS.com
 

Contact Information:
Sean Spicer
RevOps Manager
sean.spicer@hannais.com
(619) 963-2331


Original Source: Hanna Interpreting Services Awarded Comparably's Best Company for Work-Life Balance

With Nearly 2,000 Athletes, the 2023 JCC Maccabi Games & Access, North America’s Largest Jewish Teen Sports and Community Building Event, Leaves a Lasting...

With Nearly 2,000 Athletes, the 2023 JCC Maccabi Games & Access, North America’s Largest Jewish Teen Sports and Community Building Event, Leaves a Lasting Impact
Boys 16U Soccer Finals

The Fort Lauderdale Maccabi Soccer team won their gold medal match against the Philadelphia team.

The 2023 JCC Maccabi Games® & Access, hosted by the David Posnack Jewish Community Center (DPJCC) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have concluded with resounding success and heartfelt gratitude to the community that made it all possible. This week-long celebration of sports, camaraderie, and inclusivity has left a lasting impact, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our generous supporters.

Close to 2,000 Jewish teen athletes aged 12-16, representing communities worldwide, gathered in Fort Lauderdale to experience the joy of sports and the power of inclusion. The Games, presented by the JCC Association of North America, offered an unforgettable Olympic-style experience filled with competitions, opening and closing ceremonies, community service, social and cultural events, and opportunities to create Jewish connections that will last a lifetime.

One of the highlights of this year's event was the introduction of JCC Maccabi Access, brought to you by UKG and presented by the Posnack Family Foundation. This program is designed to provide athletes aged 12-18 with intellectual and developmental disabilities an inclusive Maccabi experience. This three-day program, held in conjunction with the 2023 JCC Maccabi Games®, exemplified the event's commitment to inclusivity and diversity.

Scott Ehrlich, CEO of the David Posnack Jewish Community Center, reflected on the Games, stating, "We were overjoyed to welcome Jewish athletes from all corners of the world to Broward County for the 2023 JCC Maccabi® Games & Access. Our heartfelt appreciation goes to our JCC Maccabi Team led by our Co-Chairs, Lori and Mitch Green, Debby and Dennis Eisinger, Davia and Jim Mazur, and Missy and Dan Longman. Their unwavering commitment contributed significantly to establishing an atmosphere that nurtured camaraderie, inclusiveness, and the genuine essence of the Games."

The Games' success was significantly bolstered by the support of honorary co-chairs Scott Scherr, founder of Ultimate Software, and Scot Hunter, co-founder of Emerald Multi-Family Office. Their encouragement to business owners and the backing of corporate and community partners played a pivotal role in the event's success.

Supporting Corporate Sponsors:

  • Emerald Multi-Family Office
  • Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits
  • Official Torch Sponsor: Duty-Free America
  • Kent Security
  • Official Beverage Sponsor: Coca-Cola 
  • The Meltzer Group
  • Official Transportation: Sponsor Comcast 
  • Official Media Partner: Clear Channel Outdoor 
  • Official Produce Sponsor: ProEx International
  • Official Pun, Pass, and Kick Sponsor: Miami Dolphins
  • Official Basketball Sponsor: Miami HEAT
  • Official Baseball Sponsor: Miami Marlins
  • Official Cleaning Company Sponsor: AK Building Services
  • Official Swimming Sponsor: Blavatnik Family Foundation 
  • Northland Investments
  • Official V-VIP Dinner Sponsor: Aroma Market & Catering
  • Custom Outfitters LLC
  • FP&L
  • Greenspoon Marder
  • Manne Foundation for Homeless Prevention
  • Official Mitzvah Sponsor: Children's Services Council of Broward County

The 2023 JCC Maccabi Games® & Access were not just about competition; they were also about giving back to the community. The JCC Cares Mitzvah Projects showcased the spirit of service, assembling over 1,000 Rosh Hashanah food baskets for Goodman JFS Seniors and Holocaust Survivors, donating over 2,500 pairs of new sneakers to students, in partnership with Children's Services Council of Broward County, and repurposing 340 medals for the "We Finish Together" organization, spreading kindness to ill children and adults in hospitals.

Among the highlights:

  • Approximately 10,000 spectators attended the Opening Ceremony at FLA Live Arena.
  • 1,620 visiting athletes.
  • 21 Access participants.
  • 375 Coaches & Chaperones.
  • 850 Community Volunteers.
  • 600 Host Families.
  • 215 Local Athletes & Access participants representing Team Fort Lauderdale.
  • 64 delegations, including international representation from Israel, Ukraine, Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, and 53 cities throughout the USA.
  • 100 Local businesses and individuals generously supporting.
  • 110,000 bottles of Dasani water, Powerade, and soda provided by Coca-Cola.
  • 47,000 pounds of ice used.
  • 20,000 meals served.
  • 300 athletes and coaches wrapped tefillin daily.

As the Games came to a close, the resounding message was one of unity, inclusivity, and the power of community. The 2023 JCC Maccabi Games® & Access will be remembered not only for the athletic achievements but also for the lasting friendships, cultural exchanges, and shared experiences that will continue to enrich the lives of all those who participated.

For more information about the 2023 JCC Maccabi Games® & Access and how you can support future events, please visit dpjcc.org.

Contact Information:
Rixys Alfonso
Corporate Sponsorship Consultant
rixys@causemomarketing.com
305-558-8877

Scott Ehrlich
Chief Executive Officer
sehrlich@dpjcc.org
954-434-0499, ext. 313
Related Images
Boys 16U Soccer Finals
Boys 16U Soccer Finals

The Fort Lauderdale Maccabi Soccer team won their gold medal match against the Philadelphia team.

Ukrainian team with Stanley
Ukrainian team with Stanley

The Ukranian team, sponsored by the David Posnack JCC, poses with Stanley C. Panther at opening ceremonies of the JCC Maccabi Games & Access.

JCC Access Games Athlete & Coaches
JCC Access Games Athlete & Coaches

Nico poses with his coaches during a skill competition at the Maccabi Access games.



Original Source: With Nearly 2,000 Athletes, the 2023 JCC Maccabi Games & Access, North America's Largest Jewish Teen Sports and Community Building Event, Leaves a Lasting Impact
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