Amazon will pay more than $30 million (€27.9 million) to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to settle two separate privacy lawsuits, one related to Ring’s doorbell, which passed customer data to third parties, and the other related to the voice and location data of children who accessed it. Alexa virtual assistant access.
- The first suit, which was settled for $5.8 million (€5.4 million), alleged that Ring failed to notify or obtain its customers’ permission before allowing “thousands of employees and subcontractors” to view recordings of customers’ private spaces.
- Another lawsuit, which was settled for $25 million (€23.3 million), alleges that Amazon violated the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by illegally obtaining thousands of children’s voice and geolocation data through Alexa, causing It provides the company with “value”. The FTC says the data to train its algorithms “at the expense of children’s privacy.”
- In a press release, the FTC said children’s voice patterns could be beneficial to Amazon because they differ from those of adults, providing a large training data set for Alexa’s algorithm to better respond to children’s voices.
- Amazon assured users that voice recording data collected by Alexa and geolocation information collected by the Alexa app could be deleted, but the company ended up keeping some of that data for years and keeping it “indefinitely.” The algorithm, according to the FTC complaint.
- Separately, Ring’s complaint alleged that an employee viewed thousands of video recordings of at least 81 users between June and August 2017 — misconduct was reported and the employee was eventually fired after a supervisor noted that the employee only viewed recordings of “pretty girls”.
- Ring’s doorbell has also been accused of failing to secure its devices against hacking attacks that allegedly harassed, threatened and insulted customers through the camera’s two-way communication feature.
The Alexa settlement includes a stipulation that Amazon will have to remove inactive children’s accounts, as well as some audio recordings and geolocation data, while a ban will also be put in place to prevent Amazon from using that information to train its algorithms. A new data security program will be implemented as part of a lawsuit settlement for Ring, which will have to inform its customers of the degree of access to their data that the company and its contractors have. Both settlements will need court approval to take effect.
Amazon told Forbes that Ring has been dealing with privacy issues on its own for several years now. A company spokesperson added that the company did not agree with the FTC’s allegations and did not violate the law.
Ring announced enhanced security and controls in 2020, making two-factor authentication mandatory for all users and allowing users to block most of their data from being shared. Security experts criticized the changes for not doing enough to protect user information and called for multiple changes to Ring policies and device features. The company has also come under pressure from lawmakers for repeatedly releasing Ring doorbell footage to police without the owners’ permission. Class action lawsuits have also been filed against Ring, alleging that inadequate security measures allowed hackers to compromise devices and threaten users.
A large number
514 billion dollars (479 billion euros). This is how much net sales Amazon will generate in 2022.
Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Antonio Peccino IV
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