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Amazon Suspends Account and Support for a Customer’s IoT Devices After Misunderstanding with Driver


June 23, 2023

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Amazon Suspends Account and Support for a Customer’s IoT Devices After Misunderstanding with Driver

Following a misunderstanding with an Amazon driver, the company decided to suspend the Amazon account of a client, which had a strange result: all Amazon-powered devices became inaccessible.

A key worry of any IoT user is that the company making the devices goes out of business or ends support. It has happened before, and it will happen again. Perfectly functional IoT devices can become paperweights. But what happens when the company making those IoT devices singles out a user and disables them?

This is exactly what happened to Brandon Jackson, who recounted his experience in a Medium article. On May 25, Amazon locked him out of all his devices. He lives in a smart home, with many functions tied into smart devices. Since many of these devices used a locally hosted dashboard, the impact wasn't substantial, but that's a corner case. Many people lack dedicated dashboards and rely only on cloud support.

He first believed that a hacker might have tried to log in too many times with the wrong credentials or, maybe, with the proper credentials, lost in a data breach. Since the account was protected by multi-factor authentication, an attacker could go no further, but the mere attempt could trigger a lockout.

Or at least, that was the initial assumption. As it turns out, the cause of the lockout was very different, as explained by an Amazon executive.

"When I connected with the executive, they asked if I knew why my account had been locked," Jackson said. "When I answered I was unsure, their tone turned somewhat accusatory. I was told that the driver who had delivered my package reported receiving racist remarks from my "Ring doorbell" (it's actually a Eufy, but I'll let it slide)."

After Jackson checked the cameras, he discovered that the Amazon driver left a package at this house, but no one was home at the time. The doorbell simply asked, "Excuse me, can I help you?" The footage shows the driver wearing headphones, so he likely misinterpreted the message and thought that someone in the house said something racist. The very next day, the Amazon account was suspended.

Amazon resumed services a week later, but an investigation into the matter is still underway.




Silviu is a seasoned writer who followed the technology world for almost two decades, covering topics ranging from software to hardware and everything in between.

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