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A former staff member at Amazon's Ring doorbell unit used the company's cameras to spy on female customers in bedrooms and bathrooms, a new court case has claimed.
The Federal Trade Commission said in a federal court filing that an employee of Ring viewed videos from at least 81 female customers and colleagues using Ring products placed in bedrooms and bathrooms.
"Undetected by Ring, the employee continued spying for months," the FTC said.
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The Ring employee in question was eventually fired from the company after a colleague noticed what they were up to.
An additional allegation filed by the FTC in Washington claimed the tech giant violated the privacy rights of children by failing to delete Alexa recordings at the request of parents and storing them 'longer than necessary'.
According to Reuters, Amazon said it 'disagrees' with both the claims and denies 'violating the law', but has agreed to pay out £4.6m ($5.8m) in a settlement for the Ring 'spying' claim and an additional £20m ($25m) in the Alexa privacy case.
Amazon bought Ring in April 2018, meaning that the 'spying' incident pre-dated its ownership of the company it is now responsible for.
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Meanwhile, in 2019, Amazon changed its Ring policies so that the majority of employees or contractors could only access customers' private video with user consent.
However, the FTC said Ring previously gave 'unrestricted' access to customers' videos: "As a result of this dangerously overbroad access and lax attitude toward privacy and security, employees and third-party contractors were able to view, download, and transfer customers' sensitive video data."
And in its complaint about Alexa, the FTC said: "The unlawfully retained voice recordings provided Amazon with a valuable database for training the Alexa algorithm to understand children, benefiting its bottom line at the expense of children's privacy."
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