Thousands of people in the U.S. and other parts of the world use Amazon’s Ring home security to monitor their homes and keep their families safe, but one Amazon engineer says that the devices essentially open your home to strangers.
Even more boldly, he claims the company should be permanently shuttered.
“The deployment of connected home security cameras that allow footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society,” Amazon software engineer Max Eliaser wrote in a Medium forum where Amazon employees shared their views on company business. “The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation and there is no balance that can be struck. Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back.”
A little more than a year ago, the home security company made news when Intercept reported that the company allowed its Ukraine-based R&D team access to Amazon’s cloud storage that contained unencrypted video histories of every Ring customer around the world.
Even worse, an inside source told Intercept that Ring “executives and engineers” were given “highly privileged access to the company’s technical support video portal, allowing unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras, regardless of whether they needed access to this extremely sensitive data to do their jobs.” All these employees needed to access customer camera feeds was the email address attached to the Ring account, according to Intercept’s sources.
The company has also formed partnerships with police and sheriff’s departments throughout the U.S. Emails have come to light showing that Ring “Partner Success Associates” have been coaching law enforcement officers on how to get customers to share their video footage.
When police have trouble retrieving video, they can obtain it directly from Ring without the user’s consent, according to GovTech. No warrant is needed because Ring’s policy is to comply with law enforcement, regardless of privacy issues.
More recently, Ring fell under more criticism when it was discovered that hackers can easily access Ring devices, including cameras that some parents use to monitor their children at night or when they aren’t in the house to check on them in person.
Hackers have accessed Ring cameras to spy on and communicate with children, creating what some parents have described as “a living nightmare.” Several proposed class actions against Ring are now pending in U.S. courts.
The plaintiffs in one case against Ring say they want “to hold Ring responsible for its defective devices and systems, require that Ring take all necessary measures to secure the privacy of user accounts and devices, and compensate Plaintiffs and the class members for the damage that its acts and omissions have caused.”