Ring camera support teams may have access to all video recorded by users [u]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 12
People with Ring indoor or outdoor cameras may have had any some of their private videos seen by teams working for the company, an expose claimed on Thursday. [Updated with additional Ring response]

Ring Labs tagging tools.
Ring Labs tagging tools.


Starting in 2016 Ring provided a Ukrainian team, Ring Labs, with "virtually unfettered" access to a folder on Amazon's S3 cloud storage with every video recorded by a Ring camera, according to The Intercept, citing an anonymous source. Files were allegedly unencrypted because Ring was worried that implementing encryption would cost money, and reduce revenue because of restricted access. The Labs team is also said to have been able to associate recordings with a database of Ring customers.

U.S.-based Ring engineers and executives are said to have had unnecessary access to a technical support video portal that enabled live access to some customer cameras. The only thing Ring staff needed to tune into a camera was top-level access and a customer's email address.

Engineers are even said to have spied on each other, teasing each other about people they brought home on dates. Some workers were supposedly aware of being watched, but that may not always have been the case.

Ring Labs was reportedly given broad access because of deficiencies in Ring's facial and object recognition. "Data operators" were assigned to manually tag and label items as a way of training Ring's AI, improving accuracy and reducing false positives. A second source indicated that some employees showed each other videos they were working on, including events like displays of affection or theft.

Hiring for data operators continues.

A Ring spokesperson, Yassi Shahmiri, acknowledged to The Intercept that tagging work is going on, but insisted that videos are taken exclusively from publicly-shared videos in the Neighbors app and "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."

Shahmiri further insisted that Ring has systems to "restrict and audit access," and that it punishes anyone violating legal or ethical standards.

Tighter controls were purportedly put on Ring Labs in May after a visit from parent company Amazon, but staffers reportedly found a way to circumvent them.

Ring's smarthome lineup is one of the most popular in the market, thanks in part to Amazon's takeover in February 2018. While the company has yet to support Apple's HomeKit standard, Ring accessories do work with iPhones and iPads.

Update: In a statement to AppleInsider, a Ring spokesperson said that "Ring does not provide employees with access to livestreams of Ring devices."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    and people still want to install IoT stuff in their own homes?
    They must be

    Idiots or Twits

    racerhomie3magman1979agilealtitudemaestro64
  • Reply 2 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,059member
    I mentioned a couple days ago that after looking closer I wasn't comfortable any longer with (Amazon)Ring's privacy policy and might take a look at replacing my Ring Pro doorbell with a Nest Hello, but that was a maybe. This latest article pretty well seals it for me. While I'm not rushing to make a change, a change will almost certainly happen. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 30
    gatorguy said:
    I mentioned a couple days ago that after looking closer I wasn't comfortable any longer with (Amazon)Ring's privacy policy and might take a look at replacing my Ring Pro doorbell with a Nest Hello, but that was a maybe. This latest article pretty well seals it for me. While I'm not rushing to make a change, a change will almost certainly happen. 
    Nest is owned by Google. Do you seriously believe Google’s privacy policies are any better than Amazon’s?
    magman1979rob53roakemike1macseekerbonobobchasmairnerdStrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 30
    Disturbing as hell. 
    magman1979
  • Reply 5 of 30
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 323member
    How (yawn) surprising.  Does anyone actually think that any of these surveillance/home automation devices are private?
    magman1979bonobob
  • Reply 6 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,059member
    gatorguy said:
    I mentioned a couple days ago that after looking closer I wasn't comfortable any longer with (Amazon)Ring's privacy policy and might take a look at replacing my Ring Pro doorbell with a Nest Hello, but that was a maybe. This latest article pretty well seals it for me. While I'm not rushing to make a change, a change will almost certainly happen. 
    Nest is owned by Google. Do you seriously believe Google’s privacy policies are any better than Amazon’s?
    Yes. Privacy controls are far more granular, permissions can be controlled more easily and thoroughly, much easier to review all the data connected to my account and best of all...
    ZERO danger of personal information being sold. ZERO danger of it being knowingly shared either without my express permission to do so. 
    Ad targeting (which uses no data from Nest supplied services anyway) comes with the territory and I'm OK with that. It can be controlled too. 
    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 30
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,110member
    This is why I don’t trust Amazon and Google, or any of the garbage they peddle, including their AI assistants, as far as I can throw them!

    If the device doesn’t support HomeKit, or refuses to function unless I sign up for a forced cloud account, out the door it goes!
    MplsProtateleftbyteairnerdStrangeDays
  • Reply 8 of 30
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,949member
    The theater of the “May Haves” coupled with the requisite corporate denial. These incendiary articles leave readers stuck in the middle ground of uncertainty and confusion. Obviously some readers will extricate themselves by assuming one conclusion while others will assume the other. Maybe we see what emerges from a deeper investigation before jumping to conclusions? I know... what fun would that be?
  • Reply 9 of 30
    I have Ring cameras outside. I'd never allow one inside my house.  I just always assume whatever is visible by them is public.  I'd like to think the comments from Ring spokesperson Yassi Shahmir, were true and non-evasive, but in this day and age there is no way I'd believe the any spokesperson from any company let alone Amazon (or Google). 
    I've played around trying to set up my own cameras with RaspberryPI and it's a huge pain. I suppose I've accepted the intrusion for convenience sake.
    airnerd
  • Reply 10 of 30
    gatorguy said:
    I mentioned a couple days ago that after looking closer I wasn't comfortable any longer with (Amazon)Ring's privacy policy and might take a look at replacing my Ring Pro doorbell with a Nest Hello, but that was a maybe. This latest article pretty well seals it for me. While I'm not rushing to make a change, a change will almost certainly happen. 
    Try Arlo Doorbell.  You have the option to only use audio, unless you have an Arlo camera in the location which you can activate on door area motion.
    airnerd
  • Reply 11 of 30
    roakeroake Posts: 622member
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    I mentioned a couple days ago that after looking closer I wasn't comfortable any longer with (Amazon)Ring's privacy policy and might take a look at replacing my Ring Pro doorbell with a Nest Hello, but that was a maybe. This latest article pretty well seals it for me. While I'm not rushing to make a change, a change will almost certainly happen. 
    Nest is owned by Google. Do you seriously believe Google’s privacy policies are any better than Amazon’s?
    Yes. Privacy controls are far more granular, permissions can be controlled more easily and thoroughly, much easier to review all the data connected to my account and best of all...
    ZERO danger of personal information being sold. ZERO danger of it being knowingly shared either without my express permission to do so. 
    Ad targeting (which uses no data from Nest supplied services anyway) comes with the territory and I'm OK with that. It can be controlled too. 
    While I appreciate his use of ALLCAPS and bold text to let us know he's really, really, serious, this marks the point where gatorguy documented his descent into madness.  In terms of privacy, neither Google nor Facebook have any redeeming values whatsoever.  And Nest = Google.
    macseekerairnerdStrangeDays
  • Reply 12 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,059member
    roake said:
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    I mentioned a couple days ago that after looking closer I wasn't comfortable any longer with (Amazon)Ring's privacy policy and might take a look at replacing my Ring Pro doorbell with a Nest Hello, but that was a maybe. This latest article pretty well seals it for me. While I'm not rushing to make a change, a change will almost certainly happen. 
    Nest is owned by Google. Do you seriously believe Google’s privacy policies are any better than Amazon’s?
    Yes. Privacy controls are far more granular, permissions can be controlled more easily and thoroughly, much easier to review all the data connected to my account and best of all...
    ZERO danger of personal information being sold. ZERO danger of it being knowingly shared either without my express permission to do so. 
    Ad targeting (which uses no data from Nest supplied services anyway) comes with the territory and I'm OK with that. It can be controlled too. 
    While I appreciate his use of ALLCAPS and bold text to let us know he's really, really, serious, this marks the point where gatorguy documented his descent into madness.  In terms of privacy, neither Google nor Facebook have any redeeming values whatsoever.  And Nest = Google.
    I'll just let that ride as I've no intention of turning an Amazon discussion into one about Google. Suffice to say that after all the research I've done on Google and it's a LOT as almost every regular knows, way more than most people here, I'm firmly convinced that Google benefits far more by aggressively protecting any and all personal information of mine than they can from peddling it. At the first inkling that Google sold or inappropriately shared personal data that would be the beginning of the end, and Google understands that IMHO.
    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 30
    And your work IT dept can read all your emails and see the naughty photos you send. No one cares about privacy except the media at the moment.
  • Reply 14 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,059member
    gatorguy said:
    I mentioned a couple days ago that after looking closer I wasn't comfortable any longer with (Amazon)Ring's privacy policy and might take a look at replacing my Ring Pro doorbell with a Nest Hello, but that was a maybe. This latest article pretty well seals it for me. While I'm not rushing to make a change, a change will almost certainly happen. 
    Try Arlo Doorbell.  You have the option to only use audio, unless you have an Arlo camera in the location which you can activate on door area motion.
    Thanks. I wasn't aware Arlo had one. I was considering Nest because I already have their thermostats and smoke detectors and a camera. There's other cameras on my property that aren't Nest. 
  • Reply 15 of 30
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,454member
    and people still want to install IoT stuff in their own homes?
    They must be

    Idiots or Twits

    I like what your did there
  • Reply 16 of 30
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,454member
    And why does this come as surprise to anyone. My main wish/asked has been for all these devices was the ability to give the recording device an internal IP address to write data to. I have a Netgear NAS which as the ability to record video and non of these devices will allow you to store locally. They will tell you is not safe to store locally since thieves could steal your device in your home.

    I can get camera which would record to me NAS but they are 2x to 3x the cost of these other devices, you have to ask why these other guys devices are cheaper, because the are making money off your information.
  • Reply 17 of 30
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,454member
    gatorguy said:
    gatorguy said:
    I mentioned a couple days ago that after looking closer I wasn't comfortable any longer with (Amazon)Ring's privacy policy and might take a look at replacing my Ring Pro doorbell with a Nest Hello, but that was a maybe. This latest article pretty well seals it for me. While I'm not rushing to make a change, a change will almost certainly happen. 
    Nest is owned by Google. Do you seriously believe Google’s privacy policies are any better than Amazon’s?
    Yes. Privacy controls are far more granular, permissions can be controlled more easily and thoroughly, much easier to review all the data connected to my account and best of all...
    ZERO danger of personal information being sold. ZERO danger of it being knowingly shared either without my express permission to do so. 
    Ad targeting (which uses no data from Nest supplied services anyway) comes with the territory and I'm OK with that. It can be controlled too. 

    Show us all the legal document you signed with google/nest to back up your statements, and do not show the EULA which clearly states subject to change without prior notification. I would advise you to install a network sniffer on your home network and watch how much traffic is being send to various google services and server farms.

    Without a binding agreement you have no guarantee what Google and Nest are doing with any product they gave or sold you at discount in exchange for them to used your information as they see fit and change that implied consent as time goes on.

    Yes you done your research but form the outside these company's, I have worked inside these types of company and I know exactly what they are doing as well as negotiated agreements between companies about what can and can not be done with information. Google outwards legal language which claims to protect people privacy is filling with broad statements with allow them to do as they like once they have your information.
    edited January 10 patchythepirateStrangeDays
  • Reply 18 of 30
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,174member
    Okay, so we've established GatorGuy is delusional ...

    That said, Ring is part of Amazon, not Google, so to wander back onto topic -- people who buy Alexa stuff or Amazon-made hardware deserve exactly what they get wrt to privacy and security. If you think this is an isolated instance in Amazon-land, you are as delusional as GatorGuy is about how Google makes its money (and what every single action Google takes in any area feeds into).
    airnerdStrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 30
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,174member
    and people still want to install IoT stuff in their own homes?
    Yes, if it's from Apple. I can actually read (and understand) Apple's exceptionally-clear privacy policy, and compare that to their actions, testimony before Congress, and lobbying on this subject. As much as I can trust any corporation, I can trust Apple to guard against exactly this sort of thing -- but I don't have to trust them, because it is right there in the agreements and real-world practices.

    To put this another way -- you've never heard the FBI subpoena, threaten, or otherwise complain about Google or Amazon regarding their privacy and security policies. Even though these are equally large and influential companies that handle even more sensitive data than Apple does.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 20 of 30
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,059member
    chasm said:
    and people still want to install IoT stuff in their own homes?

    To put this another way -- you've never heard the FBI subpoena, threaten, or otherwise complain about Google or Amazon regarding their privacy and security policies. Even though these are equally large and influential companies that handle even more sensitive data than Apple does.
    That you didn't hear about it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    Before the Apple vs the FBI story Google was already fighting overreaching government data demands, threatened with contempt by the Justice Dept. for refusing to supply user data WRT what the government demand for it.
    They still go to court to protect users from data requests that they believe overstep the law. Microsoft did and does the same. Ya gotta get out and read more. 
    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/09/justice-department-goes-nuclear-on-google-in-search-warrant-fight/

    Years before that Google took on the government over "lawful" demands for users search history's... and won. They might demand specific Gmails, or personal account info, or a certain range of location data and comply if it's deemed a lawful demand, but turning over everything you searched/looked at is a no. 
    https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/03/judge-tells-doj-no-on-search-queries.html

    Don't mistake only being aware of what Apple does as meaning no one else will fight for users rights. 
    edited January 10 muthuk_vanalingam
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