Amazon-owned Ring allowed employees to access customers’ live camera feeds, according to a report from The Intercept. “Ring’s engineers and executives have ‘highly privileged access’ to live camera feeds from customers’ devices,” reports 9to5Google. “This includes both doorbells facing the outside world, as well as cameras inside a person’s home. A team tasked with annotating video to aid in object recognition captured ‘people kissing, firing guns, and stealing.'” From the report: U.S. employees specifically had access to a video portal intended for technical support that reportedly allowed “unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras.” What’s surprising is how this support tool was apparently not restricted to only employees that dealt with customers. The Intercept notes that only a Ring customer’s email address was required to access any live feed.
According to the report’s sources, employees had a blase attitude to this potential privacy violation, but noted that they “never personally witnessed any egregious abuses.” Meanwhile, a second group of Ring employees working on R&D in Ukraine had access to a folder housing “every video created by every Ring camera around the world.” What’s more, these employees had a “corresponding database that linked each specific video file to corresponding specific Ring customers.” Also bothersome is Ring’s reported stance towards encryption. Videos in that bucket were unencrypted due to the costs associated with implementation and “lost revenue opportunities due to restricted access.” In response to the report, Ring said: “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.”
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