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Ring employees may have been spying on your security cameras and doorbells

14 January 2019

A report claims that Ring employees had nearly nonrestricted access to customer's video feed and recorded clips.

Consumer-level smart video doorbells and security cameras have become immensely popular, but some anxious that the video feeds could be hijacked by those with malicious intents.

Even more damning is the claim that "executives and engineers" in the USA were given "highly privileged access", allowing them "unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras".

Amazon-owned Ring is currently on the rocks right now as rumors began airing about employees having access over footages. Members of the R&D team even teased each other regarding the person they brought home after a date, since they could access the feed from their colleagues' security cameras too.

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 home security company, which sells a range of miniature "smart" cameras that can be mounted on doorbells, garages and even inside homes, was acquired by Amazon for a reported $1 billion in February a year ago.

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These companies are supposed to offer peace of mind, such as Ring's own smart cameras that can spot intruders. Though it doesn't appear Ring uses facial recognition yet, records show that Amazon recently filed a patent application for a facial-recognition system involving home security cameras.

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.

Ring may be storing the video shot from your doorbell in an unencrypted format and then allowing staff to access that video, reports The Intercept. That group was also privy to a database that would allow anyone with access the ability to conduct a simple search to find videos linked to any Ring owner. 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. 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 the United States, employees are allegedly able to pull up videos from the doorbells at will, with only the email address associated with the doorbell's account. They also assured that they have zero tolerance for abuse and they will take swift action against anyone violating the company privacy rules. The company claims the videos used for annotation were publicly shared via the Neighborhood app and customers "who have provided their explicit written consent to allow us to access and utilize their videos for such purposes".

A report by The Intercept claims that smart home security company Ring gave its employees full access to its customers' live camera feeds - inside, and outside the home - in what could be an explosive privacy scandal for the company.

Ring employees may have been spying on your security cameras and doorbells