Amazon to Pay Multi-Million Dollar Fine for Privacy Violations with Alexa and Ring
Amazon has agreed to pay approximately $31 million to settle two federal lawsuits filed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over privacy violations involving its Alexa voice assistant and Ring doorbell cameras. The FTC alleged that Amazon violated the privacy of users, including children, through these products. This is not the first time Amazon has faced privacy issues. In August 2021, the company was fined €746 million for allegedly breaching the EU’s GDPR data protection rules for using customers’ personal data for advertising purposes.
The FTC accused Ring of compromising customers’ privacy by allowing any employee or contractor to access their private videos. The company also failed to implement basic privacy and security protections, which allowed hackers to take control of consumer accounts, cameras, and videos. As a result, Ring will pay $5.8 million in refunds to consumers and is prohibited from profiting from illegal access to consumer videos under the FTC’s order.
On another front, both the FTC and the Department of Justice charged Amazon with violating children’s privacy law (known as COPPA) by keeping children’s Alexa voice recordings forever and undermining parental removal requests. According to them, Amazon prevented parents from exercising their rights of deletion under COPPA Rule and kept sensitive voice and geolocation data for years while putting it at risk of damage from unnecessary access. As part of the proposed federal injunction, Amazon will be required to delete inactive child accounts and certain voice recordings and geolocation information.
Amazon said it wanted to settle these lawsuits but disagreed with the FTC’s allegations. “While we disagree with the FTC’s assertions regarding Alexa and Ring…these settlements leave these issues behind,” said Amazon in a statement quoted by CNN.
The resolution, this settlement sends a strong message that companies cannot put profit before privacy at any cost. It also highlights how important it is for companies like Amazon to implement robust privacy and security protections to safeguard their customers’ data. It is supposed that, Amazon faces a number of privacy concerns about its Ring doorbells, and it remains to be seen how the company will address these issues in the future.