Amazon to pay $30.8m over alleged spying on customers
Global e-commerce giant Amazon has agreed to pay out $30.8m to settle claims it violated customer privacy, including spying on women in their homes.
The American multinational technology company agreed to pay out $5.8m after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said a former Amazon employee had spied on female customers for months in 2017 using Ring security cameras placed in bedrooms and bathrooms.
Amazon agreed to a separate $25m settlement over allegations it violated children’s privacy by failing to delete audio captured by Alexa smart speaker recordings when requested by parents and keeping the recordings longer than necessary.
Samuel Levine, the director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said Amazon had “sacrificed privacy for profits.”
“Ring’s disregard for privacy and security exposed consumers to spying and harassment,” Levine said in a statement on Wednesday.
Amazon said it disagreed with the FTC’s characterisations and denied breaking the law but that settlements would put the matter behind it.
“Our devices and services are built to protect customers’ privacy, and to provide customers with control over their experience,” the Seattle-based company said.
Ring, which is owned by Amazon, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying it had “promptly addressed these issues on its own years ago, well before the FTC began its inquiry.”
Under orders proposed by the FTC, Ring would delete any data that was viewed unlawfully and introduce security features including multifactor authentication, while Amazon would not use deleted geolocation and voice information for its products and would establish a privacy program for using geolocation.
The proposed orders must be approved by a federal judge.