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Amazon to pay over $30 million for Alexa, Ring privacy violations

May 28, 2023May 28, 2023

A Ring doorbell device in Silver Spring, Maryland, in August 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Amazon will pay over $30 million to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations that its Ring and Alexa divisions violated the privacy of users.

The latest: A lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC said Wednesday Amazon violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by retaining voice and geolocation information from young users for years despite parents' requests that they delete the data.

Separately, the FTC's complaint against Ring says that the company, despite emphasizing security in promotional materials, had no safeguards in place to prevent employees and hundreds of contractors from having full access to videos from every customer.

Zoom in: Civil rights groups and others have in recent years criticized the company — which has sold millions of doorbell and indoor cameras — for both its security practices and its close ties with law enforcement

Of note: Because of its failure to implement security measures, more than 55,000 U.S. customers faced attacks from hackers that compromised Ring devices between January 2019 and March 2020, the FTC said.

What they're saying: "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.

Thought bubble, via Axios' Ashley Gold: Chair Lina Khan's FTC has long had its sights set on Amazon.

The big picture: The commission's proposed settlement with Ring, which must be approved by a federal court, would require the company to pay $5.8 million in consumer refunds as well as delete data from videos it unlawfully reviewed

Go deeper: FTC signals tougher rules for health companies' use of data

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include details of the FTC's action against Amazon Alexa and a statement from Amazon.

The latest: Separately, Zoom in: Of note: What they're saying: Thought bubble, The big picture: Go deeper: