FTC Refunds $5.6 Million to Ring Customers in Video Privacy Settlement

FTC distributes $5M to Amazon Ring customers over privacy violations, highlighting importance of robust protections for home security devices.

Geeta Pillai
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FTC Refunds $5.6 Million to Ring Customers in Video Privacy Settlement

FTC Refunds $5.6 Million to Ring Customers in Video Privacy Settlement

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is distributing over $5 million in payments to Amazon Ring customers as part of a settlement over claims that Ring failed to protect consumer privacy. The FTC alleged that Ring allowed employees and contractors improper access to records from the company's security cameras, potentially putting customers' privacy at risk. Ring also allegedly used such footage to train algorithms without consent.

As part of the settlement, Amazon, which owns Ring, agreed to pay $5.6 million in refunds to over 115,000 customers who owned certain Ring devices, including indoor cameras. The refunds come amid ongoing public concerns about Ring camera data privacy, with the company announcing in January that it would no longer share video with law enforcement.

The FTC filed complaints against Ring after accusations arose that employees were spying on female customers in bedrooms and bathrooms. The FTC asserted that Ring had failed to restrict access to its videos, failed to gain user consent, and failed to implement security safeguards leading to "egregious violations of users' privacy."

Why this matters: The settlement highlights the importance of robust privacy protections for increasingly ubiquitous home security devices. It also underscores the FTC's role in holding tech companies accountable for safeguarding consumer data.

The FTC will be making the refunds through 117,044 PayPal payments to customers, depending on the type of Ring device used during the period when unauthorized users could have accessed Ring video footage. Eligible customers will need to redeem the PayPal payments within 30 days.

Ring acknowledged that bad actors used stolen credentials to unlawfully log into some customer accounts in 2019, but did not address the FTC's allegations regarding employees and contractors accessing footage. The settlement required Ring to delete content that was found to be unlawfully obtained, establish stronger security protections, and pay the fine that is now being used for customer refunds.

The FTC accused Ring of deceiving customers by not restricting employee and contractor access to videos and using customer videos to train algorithms without consent. A total of 117,044 customers will receive payments through PayPal, with the median refund being around $48. Eligible customers will automatically receive the payment and do not need to submit a claim.

Amazon, which owns Ring, disagreed with the FTC's claims but said the settlement would "put these matters behind us." The refunds are part of the FTC's efforts to address growing concerns about the privacy and security of connected home devices like Ring's doorbell cameras and indoor security cameras.

Key Takeaways

  • FTC distributes $5M in payments to 115,000+ Amazon Ring customers over privacy issues.
  • Ring allowed employees/contractors improper access to customer video footage, violating privacy.
  • Settlement requires Ring to delete unlawfully obtained content, improve security, and pay fines.
  • Median refund is $48, eligible customers will automatically receive payment via PayPal.
  • FTC settlement highlights importance of robust privacy protections for home security devices.