Amazon May Get Slapped With FTC Lawsuit For Ring Privacy And Security Blunders

Ring Doorbell
It sometimes (maybe oftentimes) feels like Big Tech plays fast and loose with our privacy and security, as if an apology and a mea culpa after the fact makes everything okay. As much as they'd like that to be the case, it doesn't always suffice. Not in the eyes of the United States Federal Trade Commission, anyway, which might soon push for litigation against Amazon.

Nothing is certain at the moment, but it's said the FTC earlier this year had recommended filing a lawsuit against Amazon over privacy and security blunders related to its Ring division. The details are not entirely clear, but a couple of incidents come immediately to mind. One is when a bug in Ring's accompanying Neighbors software allowed people to extract location and other data from posts on the app.

That little slip-up was revealed in January of this year. In that same month, Amazon admitted it fired workers for peeping user videos, which is just plain creepy.

There have been other privacy fumbles related to Ring too, like when 3,600 Ring camera owners had their login credentials leaked back in 2019. Any or all of these incidents could be the basis for a lawsuit, if one ends up being filed. According to a paywalled article at The Information, FTC employees recommended doing that very thing earlier this year.

So what happened? That's where things get a little fuzzy. A couple of sources who purportedly have knowledge of situation told the site FTC Chair Lina Khan moved to suspend the recommendation after Amazon's lawyers started negotiating a settlement.

It's not clear if Khan is open to a settlement, or if the move was so the FTC could file a broader case against Amazon instead of various smaller lawsuits.

The FTC has had Amazon in its sights before. Just earlier this month, for example, the FTC announced a $60 million settlement with Amazon over illegally held driver tips. As a result, the FTC will be sending 139,507 checks and 1,620 PayPal payments to Amazon Flex drivers.

On top of all this, Amazon is facing some blow back over its $8.45 billion deal to acquire Metro-Goldywn-Mayer Studios (MGM Studios). Four major unions have joined forces to urge the FTC to block the deal.

"The prospect of Amazon acquiring a trove of additional MGM content to build on Amazon’s existing vast library should raise alarm bells. With control over MGM’s vast library, Amazon may acquire enough market power over streaming content to raise prices for (streaming video-on-demand) SVOD competitors or for SVOD consumers," the unions said in a statement.

In short, Amazon's legal team has a lot to keep itself busy with as we head into 2022.