Ring Let Employees Watch Customer Security Camera Feeds

Fancy some work

Fancy some work

A source familiar with the troubling practice told The Intercept that Ring also provided senior executives and engineers in the U.S. 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. "If [someone] knew a reporter or competitor's email address, [they] could view all their cameras", one source said.

The company's privacy policy does mention facial recognition, stating that users "may choose to use additional functionality in your Ring product that, through video data from your device, can recognize facial characteristics of familiar visitors". The source said the company's leadership believed that "encryption would make the company less valuable".

The Ring video doorbell, mounted next to the front door of a house.

It's impossible to know if Amazon is running a tight ship with Ring's sensitive user data now, but it's yet another reason to consider the privacy risks posed by smart home devices, particularly surveillance ones.

According to the site, one of the biggest concerns is with a group of Ukrainian researchers that are using the videos to improve the doorbell's facial recognition tools.

The Intercept report claims that since acquiring Ring, Amazon has since put more restrictions on access to videos, however employees can still get around this. What's worse is that these videos were unencrypted.

It brings to mind the similar "God-mode" map that revealed detailed passenger movements. The implication being that they'd been spying on each other.

"These recordings are sourced exclusively from publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors 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 utilize their videos for such purposes", the Ring spokesperson said, adding that it has strict policies for team members and systems in place to restrict and audit access to information. Privacy breaches and violations have become commonplace, and as home security systems become more affordable, more connected and more cloud-based, we need to pay attention to who might be able to access live camera feeds and recordings of our most personal and private spaces. It's not clear that participants in the Neighbors app are aware that their videos are being reviewed manually by Ring's "data operators" in Ukraine. This move granted them complete and unfettered access to every video created by every Ring camera in the entire world (that includes indoor cameras for the home like the Stick Up Cam as well as exterior doorbell and security camera like the Ring SpotCam).

When questioned about these allegations, an Amazon spokesperson stated that the company had strict policies in place that restricted access to customer data.

From there, employees could access the footage from anywhere, according to a separate report from the Information.

Amazon-owned Ring is currently on the rocks right now as rumors began airing about employees having access over footages. They also assured that they have zero tolerance for abuse and they will take swift action against anyone violating the company privacy rules.