Ring Let Employees Watch Customer Security Camera Feeds

Cornelia Mascio
Gennaio 13, 2019

They also said that "if [someone] knew a reporter or competitor's email address, [they] could view all their cameras".

Our data-driven age now forces you to weigh the usefulness of a smart mirror against the risk that strangers might be watching you in your bathroom.

The Information also reported that it was Ring founder Jamie Siminoff who in 2016 granted the company's engineers in Ukraine "administrative access to Ring's web-based interface, where customer videos could be streamed, according to multiple people either present or briefed about the meeting".

The Information hinted that these entire Amazon-owned Ring's privacy invasion began with their research and development team based on Ukraine. The source went on to talk about engineers "teasing each other about who they brought home" after romantic dates.

A source familiar with the troubling practice told The Intercept that Ring also provided senior executives and engineers in the United States with access to unfiltered live feeds from customer cameras - even though having access to such sensitive data was not necessarily required to carry out their jobs. Ring, for its part, has said that much of the reason it had given employees access to these videos is to help train Ring's software to better recognize objects. Additionally, a source connected with the annotation efforts claimed that employees would show each other specific things they had seen in these videos, "including people kissing, firing guns and stealing". In addition to Ring deciding against encrypting video files as it was a costly endeavor that would also lose the company revenue opportunities, R&D employees in Ukraine had access to a folder with "every video created by every Ring camera around the world".

Amazon's popular security system, Ring, is billed as a round-the-clock sentry for homeowners.

"We implement systems to restrict and audit access to information", Ring said.

Ring promotes its gadgets as a way to catch package thieves, a nuisance that Amazon has been looking to remedy.

Ring sells doorbells (left) that capture video and audio.

Amazon late a year ago unveiled its own smart lock and camera combination called Amazon Key in a move into home security. This acquisition took place around the time that the company was launching its Key program which allowed delivery drivers to drop off packages inside customer's homes.

Ring's doorbell could work well with Amazon Key, which lets delivery personnel put packages inside a home to avoid theft or, in the case of fresh food, spoiling. The company says it will abide by Europe's stronger privacy rules, which took effect in May, regardless of where a customer lives. In order to improve our service, we view and annotate certain Ring video recordings.

According to a statement provided by Ring to The Intercept, "These videos are sourced exclusively from publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbours app (in accordance with our terms of service), and from a small fraction of Ring users who have provided their explicit written consent to allow us to access and utilise their videos for such purposes".

In response to the Intercept and The information's reports, Ring has said that employees were only given access to videos that were made public through its community watch program, Neighbors.

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