by Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amazon has agreed to pay $5.8 million to settle a privacy breach lawsuit after a former employee of the e-commerce giant spied on Ring camera users for months. the US regulator said in a court document on Wednesday.
Separately, Amazon has agreed to pay $25 million in a separate settlement over allegations that the company violated the privacy rights of children by not erasing not or retaining recordings of Alexa devices longer than necessary, despite requests from parents.
These procedures illustrate the will of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to hold accountable the technological giants, accused by their detractors of favoring the profits resulting from the collection of data at the expense of the private life of the customers.
Amazon, which acquired Ring in April 2018, promised to make some changes to its practices.
“While we disagree with the FTC’s accusations regarding both Alexa and Ring, and deny any violations of the law, these agreements put those issues behind us,” the group said in a statement.
According to the FTC, Ring gave its employees full access to users’ videos from its cameras.
“Due to a lax attitude towards privacy and security, employees and contractors were able to view, download and transfer sensitive user video data,” the regulator said.
Under the agreement with the FTC, Ring must disclose to its customers the scope of the data to which the company and its contractors have access.
Ring changed its policy in February 2019 so that any access to private video by an employee requires the prior consent of the user.
The total amount Amazon will pay out, $30.8 million, is a fraction of the e-commerce giant’s first quarter net profit – $3.17 billion.
Regarding the Alexa-related complaint, the FTC found that Amazon violated children’s privacy rules and misled Alexa users.
The commission said Amazon told Alexa users it was going to erase transcripts and location data, but didn’t.
(Report Diane Bartz and David Shepardson; Jean Terzian)
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