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Amazon fined $30.8 million over privacy lapses with Alexa and Ring

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined Amazon a cumulative $30.8 million over a series of privacy lapses regarding its Alexa assistant and Ring security cameras. This comprises a $25 million penalty for breaching children's privacy laws by retaining their Alexa voice recordings for indefinite time periods and preventing parents from exercising their deletion rights. Samuel Levine, from the FTC, said: "Amazon's history of misleading parents, keeping children's recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents' deletion requests violated COPPA and sacrificed privacy for profits." As part of the court order, the retail giant has been mandated to delete the collected information, including inactive child accounts, geolocation data, and voice recordings, and prohibited from gathering such data to train its algorithms. It's also required to disclose to customers its data retention practices. Amazon has also agreed to fork out an additional $5.8 million in consumer refunds for breaching users' privacy by permitting any employee or contractor to gain broad and unfettered access to private videos recorded using Ring cameras. The FTC noted that: "For example, one employee over several months viewed thousands of video recordings belonging to female users of Ring cameras that surveilled intimate spaces in their homes such as their bathrooms or bedrooms," and that "The employee wasn't stopped until another employee discovered the misconduct." This is a huge privacy violation on Amazon's part, and a major blow to the company. Amazon has long been under fire for its handling of customer data, and this latest news is sure to damage its reputation even further. It's clear that the company needs to do better when it comes to safeguarding its users' privacy, and this hefty fine is a good start.


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