FTC Charges Amazon With Privacy Violations Over Alexa Devices, Ring Cameras

They are the devices you might have in your home, to make life more convenient and even more safe.

However, the Federal Trade Commission says Ring cameras and Amazon Alexa products have been violating the privacy of owners.

Amazon now has to pay millions of dollars because of these serious charges, violating federal law.

“It makes me feel very scared and quite honestly violated,” Ring user Lourdes Johnson told NBC Chicago.

People are concerned after learning their privacy might have been compromised by Ring and Alexa. The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice has charged Amazon after it found evidence of employees illegally accessing user cameras.

“That’s just not good because they store that information and the videos and stuff,” Alexa user Tommy Nee told NBC Chicago. “You don’t know how it’s going to be used!”

In the complaint, the FTC explains how one Ring employee viewed thousands of video recordings belonging to female users that surveilled intimate spaces in their homes such as their bathrooms or bedrooms.

The FTC also accuses Ring of failing to implement standard security measures, which resulted in hackers exploiting accounts, taunting several children with racist slurs, sexually propositioning individuals and even threatening a family with physical harm if they didn’t pay a ransom.

“They have a responsibility to secure consumer’s sensitive video data,” said Elisa Jillson with the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC has come down hard on Ring, which is owned by Amazon, requiring them to encrypt user video and data and to pay $5.8 million in consumer refunds. Accusations against Amazon’s Alexa are even more troubling.

“This case is about a company that put profit over privacy and that is not acceptable,” said Jillson.

The FTC and DOJ have charged Amazon with violating children’s privacy law by keeping kids’ Alexa voice recordings forever despite a deletion request from a parent.

“As a parent, you should know that you are protected by children’s privacy laws and that the FTC is vigorously enforcing those laws,” she added.

They’ve ordered Amazon to pay $25 million dollars for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule, and the company must also delete children’s data.

Amazon responded to the charges in a statement saying in part, "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.”

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