Amazon Ring Spied on Customers: Ordered to Pay Over $30 Million in Lawsuits

Published on: June 2, 2023
Last Updated: June 2, 2023

Amazon Ring Spied on Customers: Ordered to Pay Over $30 Million in Lawsuits

Published on: June 2, 2023
Last Updated: June 2, 2023

In a recent court filing, the Federal Trade Commission revealed that a former employee of Ring, the doorbell camera unit owned by Amazon.com, engaged in covert surveillance of female customers for several months in 2017.

This disturbing privacy breach involved the placement of cameras in bedrooms and bathrooms.

As a result of these privacy violations, the FTC announced a settlement of $5.8 million with the company.

In one lawsuit, the FTC claims that the company unlawfully retained recordings of children’s conversations with its voice assistant, Alexa.

Additionally, the FTC alleges that the company utilized this data to enhance its algorithm, despite parents’ requests for the deletion of the transcripts.

These alleged practices are in direct violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which mandates that online companies must inform and obtain consent from parents before collecting data from children under the age of 13.

Furthermore, COPPA grants parents the authority to delete such data as they see fit.

According to Reuters, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently investigating Amazon.com’s acquisition of iRobot Corp for $1.7 billion, a deal announced in August 2022 as part of Amazon’s expansion into smart home devices.

Simultaneously, the FTC has initiated a separate antitrust investigation into Amazon.

Following its acquisition of Ring in April 2018, Amazon has pledged to implement certain changes in its practices.

While Amazon denies violating the law and disagrees with the FTC’s allegations concerning both Alexa and Ring, the company stated that these settlements would help resolve these matters.

According to the FTC, Ring provided its employees with unrestricted access to customers’ sensitive video data, leading to a breach of privacy and security.

This lax approach enabled employees and third-party contractors to view, download, and transfer customers’ sensitive video data without appropriate authorization.

In a specific incident in 2017, an employee of Ring illicitly accessed videos recorded by at least 81 female customers and Ring employees using Ring products.

Despite going undetected by Ring initially, the employee continued to engage in unauthorized surveillance for several months.

Eventually, a colleague noticed the misconduct, leading to the termination of the employee, as stated in the FTC complaint.

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Written by Husain Parvez

Husain has been around the internet ever since the dial-up days and loves writing about everything across the technosphere. He loves reviewing tech, writing about VPNs, and covering Cybersecurity news.