The Amazon-owned security camera company Ring fired four employees who abused internal access and spied on customers as the company faces a negligence lawsuit over hacked home surveillance cameras.
In November, a group of senators asked Amazon a series of questions related to privacy practices at the maker of doorbell security cameras. Amazon said in a letter in January that Ring fired four employees for snooping on users' homes.
"Over the last four years, Ring has received four complaints or inquiries regarding a team member’s access to Ring video data," Amazon's Vice President of Public Policy Brian Huseman wrote in the letter addressed to senators.
Huseman said that although the staffers involved were authorized to view video data from the cameras, "the attempted access to that data exceeded what was necessary for their job functions."
Amazon said Ring investigated each report promptly and dismissed the workers after it determined they violated company policies.
"Like any rapidly growing company, we recognize that we must continually evolve and enhance our data and security practices to block efforts by bad actors," Ring said.
Late last year, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about Ring's video-sharing agreements with law enforcement agencies.
After an investigation in November, Markey released findings calling Ring's privacy policies an "open door for privacy and civil liberty violations." Markey accused Amazon of not doing enough "to ensure that its products and practices do not run afoul of our civil liberties.”
In December, reports surfaced that hackers could use the security cameras to spy on unsuspecting homeowners.
USA TODAY obtained a video of one incident that shows a view of a child's room as mysterious music starts playing from the Ring. A voice calls out, "Hello there" and "I'm your best friend. I'm Santa Claus."
In January, the child's parents filed a federal lawsuit against Ring in California accusing the company of negligence and other violations.
Ring said that the incident was not related to a breach or compromise of its security but that the hack was due to weak user-generated passwords.
Ring said it launched a campaign to educate customers on how to better protect their online accounts. The campaign includes prompts both in-app and via email to use two-factor authentication.
"No employees or contractors have unrestricted access to customers' camera data, regardless of where they are based," Ring said. Though some employees have access to user-approved footage "to maintain and improve the customer experience."
Follow Dalvin Brown on Twitter: @Dalvin_Brown
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amazon's Ring fires employees for snooping on customers' camera feeds