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Amazon to pay $30 mln for Alexa, Ring privacy violations

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An Amazon Ring sign is shown as a security warning at the entrance to a residential home in Encinitas, California, U.S., September 30, 2021. Picture taken September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake (AMZN.O) and a subsidiary reached separate multi-million dollar settlements with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday related to privacy violations of children using its voice assistant Alexa and homeowners using its Ring doorbell camera.

Amazon agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations it violated children’s privacy rights when it failed to delete Alexa recordings at the request of parents and kept them longer than necessary, according to a court filing in federal court in Seattle.

“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,” said in a statement.

It also pledged to make some changes to its practices.

Ring will pay $5.8 million for mishandling customers’ videos, according to a separate filing in federal court in the District of Columbia.

In its complaint against filed in Washington state, the FTC said that it violated rules protecting children’s privacy and rules against deceiving consumers who used Alexa. For example, the FTC complaint says that Amazon told users it would delete voice transcripts and location information upon request, but then failed to do so.

The FTC also said Ring gave employees unrestricted access to customers’ sensitive video data said “as a result of this dangerously overbroad access and lax attitude toward privacy and security, employees and third-party contractors were able to view, download, and transfer customers’ sensitive video data for their own purposes.”

As part of the FTC agreement with Ring, which spans 20 years, Ring is required to disclose to customers how much access to their data the company and its contractors have.

In February 2019, Ring changed its policies so that most Ring employees or contractors could only access a customer’s private video with that person’s consent.

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