Leak claims Ring staff had ‘unfettered’ access to unencrypted videos

Fancy some work

A report published by The Intercept reveals that Ring management is allowing employees to have access over video footages captured by their security cameras.

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.

They also added that "Ring does not provide employees with access to livestreams of Ring devices". 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. According to The Intercept's sources, that team had "unfettered access to a folder on Amazon's S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world". The source did claim that Ring engineers were known to tease each other about who they brought home after dates. It's alleged that only an email address was required to view a customer's camera feed. Ring is a manufacturing company responsible for producing smart doorbells and cameras.

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".

Amazon acquired Ring in February of past year.

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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.

We take the privacy and security of our customers' personal information extremely seriously. Using a corresponding database, those same employees could link specific video files to the owner's Ring account. 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 goal of viewing and annotating these videos. The Intercept writes that neither Ring's ToS or privacy policy mentions that its staff could access users' videos. 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. 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. 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 pair of recent reports have raised serious privacy concerns about Amazon-owned home security company Ring, maker of popular products such as the Video Doorbell Pro.

Ring failed to comment on the company's past data policies and changes compared to the current policy.

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