Amazon Ring employees have been watching customers’ stored video streams, even those from inside your house. For Ring owners might find themselves waking up to a reality check as their security cameras came under fire last week for allegedly violating consumers’ privacy rights.
Ring, a smart home business which Amazon acquired in February 2018 for $1bn has been reportedly accessing its customers’ live camera feeds. So suggests The Intercept’s sources who revealed that at the beginning of 2016 Ring provided its research and development (R&D) team in Ukraine held unfettered access on Amazon’s S3 cloud to every video created via Ring cameras across the globe.
This suggests that Ring’s employees’ had at their disposal a large pool of customers’ sensitive data that can be viewed or distributed within one click. What seems suspicious is that the company left the videos unencrypted due to the cost of the encryption service, which prevents data from getting unauthorised entry, and restriction of access it provides.
Meanwhile, videos of customers’ history of technical support were also shared with executives and engineers in the US-either to help improve the services or for other purposes.
Despite Ring’s company ethics which stand for the security of consumers, it remains unknown whether those practices are continued at present. Commenting on the news, Ring explained that it uses customers data to “view and annotate” videos of customers’ “who have provided their explicit written consent.”
Soon after the article was published, Ring contacted Tamebay with a request to correct the article with the following information.
“Ring does not provide and never has provided employees with access to livestreams of Ring devices.As mentioned in our statement, Ring employees only have access to recordings that 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. Again, Ring employees do not have access to livestreams.”
“We take the privacy and security of our customers’ personal information extremely seriously. In order to improve our service, we view and annotate certain Ring video recordings. 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. Ring employees do not have access to livestreams from Ring products.We have strict policies in place for all our team members. We implement systems to restrict and audit access to information. We hold our team members to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our policies faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties. In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them.”
-a Ring spokesperson