Amazon will fork over $25 million (£20 million) to resolve claims that Alexa, its voice assistant, breached children’s privacy rights.
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After being accused of neglecting to remove Alexa recordings at parents’ requests, the business agreed to pay the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
It was discovered that it had stored private information for many years.
After granting staff unrestricted access to consumer data, Amazon’s doorbell camera device Ring will also pay out.
According to a document filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, Ring would pay $5.8 million (£4.6m) to the authorities. Amazon “prominently and repeatedly assured its users, including parents, that they could delete voice recordings collected” by the system, the FTC lawsuit about Alexa claims.
However, the complaint claimed that the corporation did not follow this procedure, retaining data for years and exploiting it for illegal purposes to advance the Alexa algorithm.
The Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Samuel Levine, accused Amazon of “misleading parents, keeping children’s recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents’ deletion requests” in a statement.
He continued by saying that the corporation “sacrificed privacy for profits”.
The FTC also claimed that Ring, which Amazon acquired in 2018, allowed “thousands of employees and contractors” to view recordings of customers’ private spaces.
The body said that they were able to monitor and download private video data from clients for their own use.
Ring “promptly addressed the issues at hand on its own years ago, well before the FTC began its inquiry,” according to an Amazon statement to the BBC.
However, the complaint claims that one employee watched thousands of video clips taken by female Ring camera customers who “surveilled intimate spaces in their homes, such as their bathrooms or bedrooms”.
According to the report, the employee was only halted after a coworker noticed their behaviour.
“Ring’s disregard for privacy and security exposed consumers to spying and harassment,” said Mr. Levine. “The FTC’s order clearly illustrates that prioritizing profit over privacy is unwise.”
Amazon said in a statement to the BBC: “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.”
The business claimed that it would keep developing new privacy options for users.