Friday, 18 January, 2019

Ring reportedly gave employees access to customer video feeds

Ring reportedly gave employees access to customer video feeds Amazon-owned Ring has reportedly been spying on customer camera feeds
Cecil Davis | 14 January, 2019, 08:27

As well as that, some USA employees specifically have access to a video portal of customer cameras to allow them to give technical support; however, according to the report, even employees that didn't deal with customers had access to it. According to one source, only a customer's email address was needed in order to gain access to their live feed.

If you own a Ring doorbell camera system, we've got some bad news. It appears that this team is responsible for developing Ring's AI object recognition technology, so it actually makes sense that this team has access to some real-world data, and they employ people specifically for the objective of viewing and annotating these videos.

Months later, Ring transmitted its users videos without encryption.

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.

That patent application envisions using a combination of doorbell cameras and facial recognition technology to build a system that could be used to match images of people who show up at your door to a "suspicious persons" database.

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The report claims the Ukrainian team was given access to the videos to help train its AI. The source also claims that Ring unnecessarily gave engineers and executives in the USA access to the technical support video portal the company operated, which gave those people unfiltered, around the clock access to live video feeds from some customer cameras with no regard to whether the Ring employees needed access to that data for their job. Because, why else? Ring decided it would cost too much.

The source also recounted instances of Ring engineers "teasing each other about who they brought home" after returning from a romantic night on the town. The implication being that they'd been spying on each other. Thanks to a report from The Intercept, Ring customers should be more anxious about the company's employees watching them than anyone else.

Amazon late a year ago unveiled its own smart lock and camera combination called Amazon Key in a move into home security.

Although Ring said many of these troubling policies have changed, a former employee in Ukraine claimed that the system, which gave employees access to this data, "could still be accessed from any computer, at home, or anywhere". These recordings 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.

When questioned about these allegations, an Amazon spokesperson stated that the company had strict policies in place that restricted access to customer data. Customers can choose to share some information - such as photos of the hair cut they got last time they visited a salon - but the businesses can't access anything stored in user profiles unless users specifically allow them to. 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.