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

  • Amazon’s Ring doorbell unit will pay the Federal Trade Commission $5.8 million in a privacy breach settlement.

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

The agency filed suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Ring violated a section of the FTC Act that prohibits unfair or deceptive business practices.

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

Ring employees and those working for a third-party contractor in Ukraine could access and download each customer’s videos, with no technical or procedural restrictions on the practice prior to 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 increase 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 in the past. In 2020, Ring said it fired four employees for peeking into customer video streams after reports from The Intercept and The Information found that Ring employees 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 where hackers gained access to a number of users’ cameras. In one case, hackers were able to see and communicate with an 8-year-old girl. Ring blamed the problem on users reusing their passwords.

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