Amazon settles Alexa and Ring privacy violations for $30 million

Amazon to pay 30m over Alexa

Amazon has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) $30 million to settle allegations of privacy breaches in Alexa and Ring. The settlements were made after the agency filed separate lawsuits against Amazon's Ring doorbell and Alexa voice assistant, citing violations of the FTC Act and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The lawsuit against Ring alleged that the company violated a section of the FTC Act that prohibits deceptive business practices. As part of the settlement, Ring will pay $5.8 million and must delete any customer videos and "face embeddings" collected before 2018.

The case regarding Alexa accused Amazon of illegally retaining thousands of children's information through their profiles with the voice assistant, thereby violating the FTC Act. Amazon agreed to pay $25 million to settle this suit.

Amazon will delete inactive child accounts, certain voice recordings, and geolocation information. It will also be prohibited from using this information to train its algorithms.

The Ring Battery Doorbell Plus

The FTC stated that children's speech patterns are valuable for companies like Amazon since they differ from those of adults, providing crucial data for improving voice recognition algorithms. And the government alleged that Amazon failed to create a system for data deletion requests from parents.

On the other hand, the allegations against Ring focused on privacy lapses, including granting unnecessary access to customer videos by third-party contractors. The FTC claimed that Ring did not have adequate privacy before 2018 and failed to implement basic security measures to protect user information.

Instances of inappropriate access to customer videos were reported, including an employee viewing videos from cameras in intimate spaces.

Against this, the company denies violating the law. "While we disagree with the FTC's claims regarding both Alexa and Ring and deny violating the law, these settlements put these matters behind us," an Amazon spokesperson said in its statement.

Source: FTC via BBC

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