Amazon is putting an amount of $ 30.8 million on the table to end two privacy cases. One case involves a former employee who used the Ring doorbell camera to spy on female customers for months. In the other case, the online retailer collected information from children under the age of thirteen via the Alexa smart speaker.
Various American media write about the settlement, including the news agency Reuters .
FTC blames Amazon for ‘excessive access and lax attitude’
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Amazon for alleged privacy violations. It started with the acquisition of doorbell manufacturer Ring in April 2018. The regulator claimed that Amazon employees had unrestricted access to privacy-sensitive video images of customers. A former employee took advantage of this in 2017 by spying on at least 81 female customers for months by placing cameras in bedrooms and bathrooms.
“As a result of this overly broad access and lax attitude to privacy and security, employees and third parties were able to view, download, and transfer sensitive customer video data,” the FTC said in a statement. The trade watchdog believes that Amazon has done too little to put an end to the existing privacy problems after the acquisition of Ring.
To put an end to this case, Amazon has settled with the FTC. The company of multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos pays an amount of 5.8 million dollars for this.
Amazon used children’s voice recordings to train Alexa
In another privacy case, the FTC said Amazon flouted privacy rules by collecting information from children 13 and under through the smart speaker Alexa without explicit parental consent. In addition, the company misled customers by promising to delete conversations and location data upon request. In reality, the retailer did not. Finally, Amazon kept data longer than necessary.
“The illegally retained voice recordings provided Amazon with a valuable database for training the Alexa algorithm to understand children at the expense of children’s privacy,” the FTC said. Both sides have agreed to pay $25 million to end the allegations.
If you add both fines together, you end up with an amount of $ 30.8 million. That is converted to more than 28.8 million euros.
Amazon denies breaking the law
FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya told Reuters that the settlements should send a message to tech companies and that their need to collect data is no excuse for breaking the law. “This is a very clear signal to them,” he says.
Amazon accepts the settlement, although the company does not agree. “While we disagree with the FTC’s allegations about both Alexa and Ring, and deny violating the law, these settlements put these matters behind us,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.