Amazon settles for $30M in response to Ring and Alexa data privacy violations

Emre Çitak
Jun 1, 2023
Updated • Jun 1, 2023

E-commerce giant Amazon has agreed to pay a substantial settlement amount of $30 million, following allegations of privacy breaches involving its Ring security cameras and Alexa voice assistant.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made this announcement on Wednesday, shedding light on two separate penalties imposed on Amazon. The penalties include a $25 million fine for failure to delete children's data and an additional $5.8 million penalty for the alleged lack of access restrictions on Ring security videos.

Allegations of Alexa data privacy violations

The FTC's complaint against Amazon focused on the company's alleged prevention of parents from deleting their children's voice and geolocation data, which was acquired through the Alexa voice assistant. The data was stored and used for an extended period to enhance the Alexa algorithm's understanding of children's speech patterns and accents.

The FTC argued that this retention of data exposed it to potential harm from unauthorized access, violating the principles of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Rule (COPPA Rule). Samuel Levine, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, emphasized that companies are not allowed to retain children's data indefinitely or utilize it for training algorithms, highlighting the seriousness of the violation.

Alexa data privacy violations
FTC sent a complaint about Alexa data privacy violations

Amazon's response

Amazon, in response to the FTC's claims, expressed its disagreement and denied any violation of the law. The company released a blog post asserting its strong commitment to customer privacy and its extensive efforts to implement robust privacy protections in its children's products and services.

Amazon's contention is that the FTC's allegations are unfounded, and they remain confident in the security measures and safeguards they have put in place. However, despite their disagreement, Amazon has decided to settle and pay the imposed penalties.

Ring's video security and access restriction issues

In addition to the concerns surrounding Alexa, the FTC also scrutinized Amazon's subsidiary, Ring, which specializes in video doorbells, cameras, and home security services. The FTC imposed a $5.8 million penalty on Ring, citing the company's failure to enforce appropriate access restrictions on customers' videos.

It was alleged that Ring used these videos to train its algorithms without obtaining the necessary consent. A disturbing revelation emerged from the investigation: an employee had engaged in unauthorized viewing of thousands of video recordings captured by Ring cameras, including intimate spaces such as bathrooms and bedrooms.

Alexa data privacy violations
Ring cameras are rumored to violate the privacy

The misconduct persisted until another employee discovered it, highlighting the lack of monitoring and oversight.

To address these issues, Ring has pledged to refund customers using the penalty amount of $5.8 million. Additionally, the company is required to delete all data and videos obtained prior to 2018, along with any derived work products derived from that footage.

Ring, like Amazon, expressed its disagreement with the FTC's claims and maintained that many of the concerns were addressed proactively before the inquiry began. The company emphasized its commitment to customer privacy and the various protective measures it has implemented.


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  1. Anonymous said on June 1, 2023 at 11:44 pm

    Oh and the $30M is a ridiculous sum for Amazon in general and specifically ridiculous considering the Ring related privacy crimes, although that specific article is probably not about the worst of them.

  2. Anonymous said on June 1, 2023 at 11:42 pm

    “an employee had engaged in unauthorized viewing of thousands of video recordings captured by Ring cameras, including intimate spaces such as bathrooms and bedrooms.”

    Smart idea to put an Amazon+police cam in your bedroom and bathroom. As usual with Big Tech it reminds of Zuckerberg’s “They trust me. Dumb fucks.”.

    Don’t forget to read the fine print. Like here:

    “According to their terms of service, Ring and its licensees have “an unlimited, irrevocable, fully paid, and royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide right to re-use, distribute store, delete, translate, copy, modify, display, sell, create derivative works,” in relation to the footage taken from your front door.”

    The same article explains how the police can access the data without user agreement or knowledge and even without a judge. Well, that’s already so if they do it legally of course, but we know how in US the rule of law doesn’t really apply especially regarding privacy rights and mass surveillance, so it has to be even easier in reality.

    Not sure why they don’t talk about more than the front door, but it’s a 2019 article and as the name said this started as a doorbell cam before intruding into toilets. They even have cam drones flying autonomously in the home now.

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