Ring reportedly gave employees access to customer video feeds

Oh great

Oh great

If [someone] knew a reporter or competitor's email address, [they] could view all their cameras.

While the same could be said for what you say in front of your smart speakers, or the webcam perched atop your computer monitor, it's up to you to draw the line for where you're willing to trade convenience for privacy.

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.

Ring's lax security practices began with its Ukraine-based research and development team, according to the Intercept.

The Intercept's sources said that the engineers spy on their colleagues' feeds and tease one another about the dates they would bring home.

Responding to The Intercept's story, Ring strongly denied that it has ever granted any of its employees access to video live feeds.

An unnamed source who spoke with The Intercept said that Ring employees in the USA are even able to type in a user's email address and get access to the user's camera's live feed.

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A report claims that Ring employees had nearly nonrestricted access to customer's video feed and recorded clips. Sure, there's always a potential for fine print, PR spin, and/or loopholes when promises like that are made, but in the case of Amazon's Ring cameras, no such promises were provided. The source also claims that Ring unnecessarily gave engineers and executives in the USA access to the technical support video portal the company operated, which gave those people unfiltered, around the clock access to live video feeds from some customer cameras with no regard to whether the Ring employees needed access to that data for their job.

Clips can be streamed on smartphones and other devices, while the doorbell even allows homeowners to remotely chat to those standing at their door.

Consumer-level smart video doorbells and security cameras have become immensely popular, but some anxious that the video feeds could be hijacked by those with malicious intents.

Ring sells doorbells (left) that capture video and audio.

The appeal of products like Nest cameras or Amazon Ring is their convenience, affordability, and simplicity. Amazon-owned Ring has been one of the top players in these niches for a few years, but if you've purchased any of the company's products in the past, you may want to consider unplugging them and getting something else. This acquisition took place around the time that the company was launching its Key program which allowed delivery drivers to drop off packages inside customer's homes.

Ring went on to win backing from the likes of billionaire Richard Branson and Amazon's Alexa Fund.

A Ring spokesperson told The Intercept that the videos used to improve its service are sourced from "publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors app", as well as from Ring customers that have consented to such use. It's not clear that participants in the Neighbors app are aware that their videos are being reviewed manually by Ring's "data operators" in Ukraine. "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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