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Ring employees reportedly had access to customers' recorded videos and live feeds

By midian182 · 10 replies
Jan 11, 2019
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  1. A report from the Intercept explains how, starting in 2016, Ring allowing its Ukraine-based R&D team access to a folder on Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service that contained video histories of every Ring customer around the world. At the time, the files were unencrypted because Ring’s leaders felt “encryption would make the company less valuable.”

    Even more damning is the claim that “executives and engineers” in the U.S. were given “highly privileged access,” allowing them “unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras.” It’s alleged that only an email address was required to view a customer’s camera feed.

    The Intercept’s source said there were instances of employees watching co-workers via the cameras and “teasing each other about who they brought home” after romantic dates.

    The report claims the Ukrainian team was given access to the videos to help train its AI. These “data operators” would comb through the videos and tag objects, thereby improving the system’s recognition accuracy. The Intercept writes that neither Ring’s ToS or privacy policy mentions that its staff could access users’ videos.

    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. Ring added that it has never given employees access to livestreams of the company's devices.

    Since Amazon acquired Ring last year, measures have been put in place to restrict access to the videos in the Ukraine office, but staff have reportedly found ways to circumvent them.

    Responding to the report, Ring gave the following statement:

    We take the privacy and security of our customers’ personal information extremely seriously. In order to improve our service, we view and annotate certain Ring video recordings. These recordings are sourced exclusively from publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors 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 utilize their videos for such purposes. Ring employees do not have access to livestreams from Ring products.

    We have strict policies in place for all our team members. We implement systems to restrict and audit access to information. 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 addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them.

    Permalink to story.

  2. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,825   +2,672

    So Amazon freely provided access to partners in The Ukraine, already one of the shadiest places to do business before Russia took over. And they didn't want to encrypt the data because that makes it less valuable. To who, the people their selling all your data to?? If this doesn't wake people up I don't know what will. Then again, sometimes I think people willingly bring Big Brother into their lives in hopes they'll eventually get a piece of a nice big class action payday. Sadly, its the lawyers who make the real money while the actual victims get crumbs. I bet this latest crime doesn't even make the nightly news unless they can dream up a way to connect it to Trump.
    JaredTheDragon, Milest and ShagnWagn like this.
  3. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,584   +5,140

    You can guarantee they are dreaming. They may not connect the dots, but they are dreaming.
  4. fktech

    fktech TS Maniac Posts: 532   +141

    It was only a matter of time.

    Now who do I sue?
  5. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,710   +4,046

    Yeah, I knew I was smart to stay with the big dog and the .357 ..... for some unknown reason nobody has bee successful in hacking either of those!
    killmess and Capaill like this.
  6. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 850   +657

    And my friends think I'm a jerk because I told them I will not visit if they have these things. If so, yes. Yes I am. Soon they will find a way for people to willingly upload their DNA to the internet. Oh wait (genealogy).

    Video by these. Audio by "smart" speakers. Both facial recognition and voice recognition. Why are people so stupid? They even pay for this stuff!
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  7. Drew Valadez

    Drew Valadez TS Booster Posts: 56   +33

    Teach the dog how to use the .357 would be more than impressive.

    Every cat and possum in the neighborhood will start wearing kevlar vest.
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,179   +4,127

    All of this internet camera based surveillance equipment is pure bullsh!t to begin with. Are people supposed to have the smartphone on and in their face all day long, to see if someone is trying to break into their house 20 miles away? The concept is absurd, ludicrous, and asinine, to say the least.

    Any self respecting home invasion crew would wear ski-masks, rip the "Ring device" off the door, break in, and then stick it up your a**.
  9. Drew Valadez

    Drew Valadez TS Booster Posts: 56   +33

    Yes, because instead of being notified that someone is at your house and being 20 miles away you are completely helpless.

    I worked 40+ miles from my home and had a camera watching my front yard with a notification range that would mean someone was on my lawn. or on my porch. I would be notified but any Joe-Shmoe walking his dog on the sidewalk wouldn't trigger the notification. I basically saw, more like notified, whenever anyone was on my property when they weren't supposed to be.

    There was a few inceidents my alert would notify me. One opened up the app and saw people outside, it was a contractor who sent one of his guys to do last minute cleanup but didn't notify my wife or I. Wife was in the house but she had no idea anyone was outside when I called her. Another instance was a lady scoping out the house, called my father in law who was down the street and he went by the house and she was gone in the few minutes I saw them from the time my FIL showed up. Literally minutes separated them. If she broke in and even so much as spent 2 minutes to do anything, my FIL woulda shown up ready.

    If you think there is no purpose to a security camera to an app on a mobile phone, by all means just accept your fate and your property gone or destroyed and the shock when you get home but I'll have the cops show up while it is going on to at least give these jerks what they deserve. Just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't for other people.

  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,179   +4,127

    I guess is all boils down to how wrapped up in the web you are. And I"d say Ring users are pretty damned dependent.

    I employ a monitored wireless alarm system, completely independent of the web, so it can't be hacked. somebody breaks in, the alarm company calls the police. I don't have to watch, wait, or listen.

    I save the camera toys for watching the entertainment going on outside with a CCTV system while I'm at home. If there's a problem, no problem, I would just key in a panic code, either on the alarm console, or on the remote fob.Or simply dial 911.

    But by all means, Continue to do it your way, you obviously know it all.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
  11. Drew Valadez

    Drew Valadez TS Booster Posts: 56   +33

    My point wasn't that I know it all, it's that just because something doesn't work for you doesn't mean it won't work for everyone else. If your perception is that people watch internet based cameras all day then that's just your perception.

    I recently listened to my mom groan about wifi lights and digital punchpads to get into a home without a key, apparently that is for the lazy and refused to hear any reasoning why the "old fashioned" way wasn't enough.

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