Spied-Upon Woman Fighting to Hold Amazon Accountable

Judge allows lawsuit proceed, scoffs at company's 'shock' over illicit use
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2023 10:00 AM CST
Legal Fight Is On Over Creepy World of Spy Cams
   (Getty / Borislav)

Spy cams that boast about how easily they can peep in on someone's private moments are easy to find on Amazon, reports the BBC, and a young woman who says she was victimized is now fighting to hold the company accountable. The woman is a Brazilian foreign exchange student who says a camera disguised to look like a bathroom towel hook captured images of her when she was living in West Virginia, reports Ars Technica. She was a minor at the time. The woman sued Amazon, and a federal judge has now rejected the company's request to have the suit dismissed.

Given that "Amazon approved product descriptions suggesting consumers use [the camera] to record private moments in a bathroom ... Amazon cannot claim shock when a consumer does just that," wrote US District Judge Robert Chambers. "These allegations raise a reasonable inference Amazon sold a camera knowing it would be used to record a third party in a bathroom without their consent." The woman's complaint notes that the spy cam in question promised would-be customers "it won't attract attention," and it alleges that Amazon allowed it to be sold even after a product safety team examined the listing.

Amazon made the case that it wasn't responsible for any illicit use of cameras sold on the platform, ostensibly for home protection. While listings come and go, the BBC found a number of questionable product advertisements, including one camera disguised as a USB charger that was shown filming a couple who were embracing, and another inside a smoke detector that said it could help catch a cheating partner. If all of the above is making you paranoid, the Verge explains how you can use your phone to detect hidden cameras when traveling. (More hidden camera stories.)

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