Tech and retail giant Amazon was ordered to pay in excess of $30 million in fines after lawsuits filed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleged the company violated privacy rights with its Alexa voice assistant and Ring doorbell camera.
A lawsuit alleges that the company's divisions for its Ring and Alexa products used unfair or deceptive business practices to violate restrictions imposed by the FTC. For the allegations against Ring, a court ordered Amazon to pay $5.8 million in a settlement.
A separate lawsuit alleged that Amazon violated FTC rules and rules within the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act when it held onto the information of minors via Alexa voice assistant profiles. In that case Amazon was ordered by a court to pay $25 million to settle.
The FTC says Amazon retained the voice and geolocation data of children, which is illegal. The suit also alleged that the company used that information to improve its algorithm by keeping transcripts of interactions, even when parents requested that they be deleted.
In the Ring settlement, the division is ordered to delete any face data, or "face embeddings," and customers' videos that were saved before 2018. Amazon will not be allowed to use data if it was requested that the data be deleted, according to the conditions of the settlement.
Samuel Levine, the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection director, said, "Amazon's history of misleading parents, keeping children's recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents deletion requests violated COPPA and sacrificed privacy for profits."
The orders are proposals and will still require the approval of federal judges to be implemented. In 2020, Ring fired four employees for looking at video feeds from customers, and reports found that Ring employees in Ukraine were given access to videos from Ring cameras around the globe.
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