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Amazon to Shell Out over $30 million for Privacy Violations

The company's Ring and Alexa divisions are under scrutiny.
Joshua Koszalkowski
Contributing Writer
Amazon

Amazon has agreed to pay over $30 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that its Ring and Alexa divisions violated user privacy.

Why it matters: The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of the FTC, stating that Amazon violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by retaining voice and geolocation data from young users for years, even after many requests from parents to delete the data. The FTC’s proposed settlement with Amazon requires the company to pay a $25 million civil penalty and delete particular voice recordings, inactive child accounts, and geolocation info.

  • Another concerning issue is that the FTC’s complaint alleged that Ring had no safeguards to keep employees and contractors from having complete access to customer videos. The videos of particular concern were stored on Ring’s internal network and could be shared, viewed, and downloaded by any employee or contractor, even if they didn’t need the videos to do their job.
  • One Ring employee was cited as watching thousands of video recordings from just over 80 women, a few of which were also Ring employees.
  • “Ring’s disregard for privacy and security exposed consumers to spying and harassment,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. This allegation was denied by Amazon and Ring.
  • The FTC’s proposed settlement with Ring still needs to be approved by a federal court but would make it so that the company must delete the data from videos it unlawfully reviewed and pay $5.8 million in consumer refunds.

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