Amazon will pay $5.8 million to settle a recently announced privacy lawsuit raised by the Federal Trade Commission. According to the federal complaint, Ring had allowed employees and third-party contractors full access to customer video content. This unfettered access was abused by some employees and contractors and was used to violate the privacy of both Ring customers and other workers.
The lawsuit highlights several cases where hacked cameras were used to sexually harass and spy on women, stalk female co-workers who used Ring products, utter racial slurs toward children and more. The FTC alleges that Amazon failed to address these issues after buying the company in 2018, noting that security issues persisted from 2016 through 2020.
Amazon has previously fired employees for inappropriate use of customer data, telling US Senators in 2020 that at least four employees had been terminated for accessing or attempting to access data that "exceeded what was necessary for their job functions."
This isn't the first time Ring Doorbells have contended with privacy complaints, either. The company faced scrutiny last year for giving police footage from Ring products without user consent. In 2020, hackers used illicit access to Ring cameras to use in livestream swattings.
Amazon's Ring division tells Engadget that its settling the lawsuit to resolve the issue and move forward, but notes that it does not agree with the FTC's claims. "Our focus has been and remains on delivering products and features our customers love, while upholding our commitment to protect their privacy and security," the company's statement reads. "Ring promptly addressed these issues on its own years ago, well before the FTC began its inquiry. While we disagree with the FTC's allegations and deny violating the law, this settlement resolves this matter so we can focus on innovating on behalf of our customers."
The company has published its official response on the Ring website.