Ring employees can reportedly access customers' live camera feeds

Lloyd Doyle
January 11, 2019

An unnamed source who spoke with The Intercept said that Ring employees in the USA are even able to type in a user's email address and get access to the user's camera's live feed.

The Intercept published a report on Thursday, January 10, and in the report, it's said that Ring employees at the company's Ukraine research center have been able to view video footage from customers' cameras and doorbells with nothing more than an email address.

According to The Intercept, Ring's Neighbours service struggled with object identification, leading to the employment of the Ukrainian team to help teach the cameras to identify things correctly.

One could reasonably assume that efforts would be made to anonymise and encrypt the videos and audit and restrict employee access, even if it's not explicitly stated within the company's policies.

As far as the Ukraine access is concerned, the report claims Ring provided the videos due to a lack of advanced object and facial recognition. Thanks to a report from The Intercept, Ring customers should be more anxious about the company's employees watching them than anyone else.

Employees only need a user's email address to view all the Ring videos associated with it. The source also recounted instances of Ring engineers "teasing each other about who they brought home" after romantic dates.

But, at times, those operations went astray as employees would reportedly show their coworkers interesting videos they saw, some of which included people kissing, stealing and firing guns. The smart home company owned by Amazon, which the Internet retail giant shelled out more than $1 billion to acquire, has apparently been violating its customers' privacy in a pretty shocking way.

So, why did Ring give its employees access to all this information in the first place?

The home security startup sells doorbells that capture video and audio.

All those clips the Ring devices would save in the cloud.

Ring promotes its gadgets as a way to catch package thieves, a nuisance that Amazon has been looking to remedy. 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 went on to win backing from the likes of billionaire Richard Branson and Amazon's Alexa Fund.

Ring said that the videos used to improve its service come from "publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors app", along with customers who have given explicit written consent for their use. Also worth noting: "Neither Ring's terms of service nor its privacy policy mention any manual video annotation being conducted by humans, nor does either document mention of the possibility that Ring staffers could access this video at all", the Intercept piece concludes. "In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behaviour, we will take swift action against them".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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