Amazon has agreed to pay $30 million to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to settle allegations of privacy violations in Alexa and Ring. The settlements came after the agency filed separate lawsuits against Amazon’s Ring doorbell and Alexa voice assistant, citing violations of the FTC Act and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The lawsuit against Ring alleges that the company violated a section of the FTC Act that prohibits deceptive business practices. As part of the settlement, Ring will pay $5.8 million and must delete any user videos and “face embeddings” collected before 2018.
The case involving Alexa accuses Amazon of illegally retaining information on thousands of children through its profiles with the voice assistant, thereby violating the FTC Act. Amazon agreed to pay $25 million to settle the suit.
Amazon will delete inactive child accounts, certain voice recordings and geolocation information. It will also be prohibited from using this information to train its algorithms.
The FTC said children’s speech patterns are valuable to companies like Amazon because they differ from adults, providing important data to improve voice recognition algorithms. And the government alleged that Amazon failed to create a system for parental requests to delete data.
On the other hand, the allegations against Ring focused on privacy violations, including providing unnecessary access to customer videos by third-party contractors. The FTC claimed that before 2018, Ring did not have adequate privacy practices and failed to implement basic safeguards to protect user information.
Incidents of inappropriate access to customer videos were reported, including an employee viewing videos from cameras in intimate areas.
The company denies any violation of the law against this. “While we disagree with the FTC’s claims regarding both Alexa and Ring and deny violations of the law, this settlement puts these matters behind us,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “