Amazon has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) $30.8 million to settle claims that it allowed employees and third-party contractors of its Ring video camera doorbell unit to surveil customers in their homes and illegally retained children’s voice recordings through its Alexa app.
In one such example of violations of users’ privacy, one company employee allegedly watched thousands of video recordings belonging to one female customer who had purchased Ring cameras and placed them in “intimate” places across her home, including in her bedroom and bathroom.
“The employee wasn’t stopped until another employee discovered the misconduct,” the FTC said. “Even after Ring imposed restrictions on who could access customers’ videos, the company wasn’t able to determine how many other employees inappropriately accessed private videos because Ring failed to implement basic measures to monitor and detect employees’ video access.”
Ring also failed to implement basic privacy and security protections to prevent customers from falling victim to threats such as “credential stuffing” and “brute force” attacks, despite warnings from employees and outside security researchers.