Amazon’s Ring to pay FTC $5.8 million over privacy violations


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Amazon‘s Ring doorbell unit will pay the Federal Trade Commission $5.8 million in a settlement over privacy violations, according to a filing on Wednesday.

The agency filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Ring violated a portion of the FTC Act that prohibits unfair or deceptive business practices.

While Ring has claimed its products help keep customers safer with its doorbell security cameras, the FTC alleged that Ring instead comprised customer information by giving third-party contractors access to customer videos, even when it was unnecessary to perform their jobs.

Ring employees and those who worked for a third-party contractor in Ukraine could access and download every customer’s videos, with no technical or procedural restrictions on the practice before July 2017, the FTC alleged.

Amazon acquired Ring for a reported $1 billion in 2018 and the company now operates as a subsidiary of Amazon. The deal has helped Amazon grow its presence in the smart home and home security categories. But Ring has also been a source of major scrutiny for Amazon over privacy concerns and its controversial partnerships with police departments.

Ring’s security protocols have been criticized previously. In 2020, Ring said it fired four employees for peeping into customer video feeds after reports from The Intercept and The Information found that Ring staffers in Ukraine were given unfettered access to videos from Ring cameras around the world.

The company strengthened its security measures after a series of incidents wherein hackers gained access to a number of users’ cameras. In one case, hackers were able to watch and communicate with an 8-year old girl. Ring blamed the issue on users reusing their passwords.

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