A hot potato: While the home-security cameras of Amazon-owned Ring are popular products, questions over their privacy implications have been around for a while, and a new report could bring the company more controversy.
As discovered by the BBC, Amazon keeps records of every motion detected by Ring doorbells, along with the exact time they are logged. It was also discovered that every interaction with the Ring app is stored, right down to the device model and mobile network used. Even finger pinches for zooming in were documented.
The broadcaster received the information after submitting a data subject access request (DSAR) as part of a wider investigation into Amazon’s data gathering practices. The company says it uses the information to evaluate, manage and improve its products and services.
The records show that between September 28, 2019, and February 3, 2020, 1,939 individual "camera events" were documented. These included when motion was detected, when a doorbell was pressed, and when someone accessed a live video and audio feed.
When it came to the Ring apps, 4,906 actions were listed in the database over the 129 days, including when it was opened, various screen taps, pinch-to-zoom actions, and details of when live-views began and finished. Another worrying detail was the latitude and longitude coordinates of the Ring devices.
Ring says the data it collects is anonymized and cannot be linked to individual accounts, but that hasn’t placated privacy advocates. Back in January, an Amazon engineer said privacy issues meant Ring “should be shut down immediately and not brought back.”
Back in January 2019, Ring had to deal with reports claiming its employees had access to customers’ recorded videos and live feeds—something that led to the firing of four workers. There’s also been controversy over its partnerships with US police forces, hacking incidents, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) identifying third-party trackers in the Ring Android app.