01 Jun 2023, 10:05

Amazon settles Ring customer spying complaint

SAN FRANCISCO, June 1, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Amazon on Wednesday agreed to pay $30.8 million to settle Ring and Alexa privacy complaints filed by US regulators, including accusations that employees spied on female customers, according to court documents.

The Federal Trade Commission charged Amazon-owned home security camera company Ring with failing to implement basic protections to stop hackers or employees from accessing people's devices or accounts.

According to the FTC complaint, Ring's failures in security resulted in "egregious" violations of privacy such as female users of home security cameras being "surveilled" in bedrooms or bathrooms.

"Ring's disregard for privacy and security exposed consumers to spying and harassment," FTC bureau of consumer protection director Samuel Levine said in a statement.

Under a proposed order, which requires approval by a federal judge, Ring will delete any data unlawfully viewed and ramp up security with features such as multi-factor authentication.

Hackers exploited vulnerabilities to not only access video streams but also to take control of cameras to taunt children, sexually proposition people, and threaten a family with harm if they didn't pay a ransom, according to the FTC.

Ring will pay $5.8 million as part of the settlement, the proposed order indicated.

"Ring promptly addressed these issues on its own years ago, well before the FTC began its inquiry," Ring said in response to an AFP inquiry, adding that it disagrees with the allegations.

Amazon will pay an additional $25 million as part of a separate deal to settle FTC accusations that children's voice recordings captured by Alexa smart speakers were kept when they should have been deleted, according to the regulator.

US law "does not allow companies to keep children's data forever for any reason, and certainly not to train their algorithms," Levine said.

Amazon will identify and delete any personal information it has kept from child profiles that are no longer active, a proposed order stated.


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