Reports Suggest Ring Allowed Employees Unfettered Access to Customer Camera Feeds

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Over the course of the last month, some troubling information has surfaced about Ring, the Amazon-owned company that has millions of cameras inside and outside homes across the globe.

    The Information in December suggested Ring employees in both the U.S. and the UK had unfettered, unnecessary access to customer camera feeds, and today, The Intercept has shared additional details.

    Starting in 2016, Ring allowed its Ukraine-based research team to access "every video created by every Ring camera around the world." Video content was unencrypted and "easily browsed and viewed," plus videos were linked to specific customers.

    Ring employees highlighted objects in video feeds to improve object and facial recognition>​

    Ring's Ukraine team was provided with access to further development on facial and object recognition software, with executives and engineers in the U.S. also able to access the same data even if they didn't specifically need it for their jobs.

    Employees with access to customer feeds could view an individual's camera with just an email address.
    Ring employees weren't just watching outdoor video, either, with a source who spoke to The Intercept suggesting indoor video was viewed as well for the same object recognition training. Ring employees were instructed to draw boxes around objects with labeling, allowing the system to learn to recognize various things.

    Employees allegedly showed each other the videos they were annotating and discussed some of the incidents they witnessed, such as people kissing, stealing, and guns being fired.

    According to The Intercept, Ring is still using similar tactics for improving video tagging and object recognition. Ring Labs, the team Ring has in the Ukraine, is continuing to employ people who watch and tag details in Ring video content.

    Ring spokesperson Yassi Shahmiri declined to answer The Intercept's questions about past and current data policies, but he confirmed that Ring views and annotates "certain Ring videos" that are either public or obtained with "explicit written consent."
    Team members are held to "high ethical standards" and there are systems in place to "restrict and audit access to information." Bad actors are subject to a "zero tolerance" response if abuse is detected.

    As The Intercept points out, given the information from the sources it spoke to, it is not known if Ring has always used the standards described in its current statement, and past reporting from The Information has suggested that access used to be less restrictive until Amazon purchased the service.

    As Ring says, Ring users who are opting into the Neighbors system, which allows for sharing of videos to "create safer videos" are unknowingly opting in to potentially having those videos viewed by Ring employees and there is no mention of that when customers sign up for the feature.

    Ring's terms of service and privacy policy do not mention manual or visual annotation by employees, even though that practice is still being used to this day, nor are customers notified that some employees had or could still have access to their camera feeds. Current and prospective Ring customers should be aware of Ring's practices and wary of who has access to their videos.

    Update: A Ring spokesperson has provided the following updated statement to MacRumors on the situation:

    "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."

    Article Link: Reports Suggest Ring Allowed Employees Unfettered Access to Customer Camera Feeds
  2. KPandian1 macrumors 65816

    Oct 22, 2013
    This is all innocent to start with - like FaceBook, Gmail, etc.
  3. Raineer macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2008
    Not related to this story, but I've owned a Ring since the very early days of the company. 100% of the credentials sent from the camera to the server are sent plaintext HTTP :/

    It sucks when you see behind the curtain on the products you like.
  4. EM2013 macrumors 68000


    Sep 2, 2013
    This reminds me of the events from the video game Watch Dogs.
  5. slide_to_unlock macrumors member


    Apr 18, 2018
    Should I be surprised? Probably not. Seems like People who has "Ring" should build a "Wall" in front of their door to protect their "privacy". OOPS
  6. Baymowe335 macrumors 601

    Oct 6, 2017
    I always try to limit the apps I download to my phone for this reason. Sometimes, you can't avoid it.

    It's Amazon though. Are we surprised?

    Look at their leader!
  7. iapplelove macrumors 601


    Nov 22, 2011
    East Coast USA
    I own 6 ring cameras around the house lmao... it bothers me but it doesn’t.

    I erase video every morning not sure if they still have access to those erased videos or can’t they just remotely key into the live cameras ?
  8. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    Everyone once in a while I start to think cameras at the house would be great. Then I read a story like this.

    So....I'm good.
  9. snowboarder macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2007
  10. hobocamp456 macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2017
    Again, wtf do you want cameras run by a company known to not give a **** about privacy all over your house?
  11. Arbuthnott macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2008
    This gets right to the heart of how the competition between the “digital assistants” will play out. Siri, with Apple’s constraints on privacy, will have less useful examples and less specific context for learning. The others will gain useful experience faster because there appear to be few real limits to what they are prepared to allow. That’s the dispassionate and objective view of machine learning.

    In the real world this sort of intrusion, into personal privacy, is absolutely intolerable. If companies don’t have the good sense and respectfulness to take more care than this, then regulation and penalty must surely follow.

    One wonders if Apple has some sort of secret investigative team that exposes this stuff, and other misbehaviour such as that by Qualcomm. If they don’t, then they ought to. This sort of news is pure gold for Apple, and it’s user-oriented approach.
  12. WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    What a joke. Hopefully Nest doesn't get shown to be doing stuff like this. I love my Nest Hello and Nest Cams.
  13. Kanyay Suspended


    Dec 14, 2018
    Mar-a-Lago, Russia
    doesnt surprise me. i use arlo cameras around my main mansion in the hills. **** amazon.
  14. ricktat macrumors 65816

    Feb 18, 2013
    The other day I was outside my front door talking to a friend about saving money on car insurance. This was all done in front of my Ring.

    Then 15 minutes later I sit down on the couch...pull up Macrumors... and there sits an ad from Geico.
  15. adrianlondon macrumors 65816


    Nov 28, 2013
    Brilliant idea. Ring employees can look around inside your house, watch what you do/use and then order you stuff they think would be useful from Amazon.
  16. sfwalter macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    Dallas Texas
    I just assumed this was happening from the beginning. This isn't real new is it?
  17. PhilMacbook macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2018
    Maybe Jeff was developing a way to keep tabs on Mrs. Bezos.
  18. 555gallardo macrumors regular


    Jan 16, 2016
  19. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    I got a cool idea. Get a replicate of the Enterprise bridge and a Star Trek uniform and put the Ring cameras all over the bridge. Walk around and act in a role that you have gone back in time and you are observing the past in the year 2019 on life on Earth before World War III. Pretend you are from the 23rd century. Have fun and maybe this information will get out and people will think it is real from Amazon and the NSA.
  20. AngerDanger, Jan 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019

    AngerDanger macrumors 601


    Dec 9, 2008
    I say they use it as a selling point for exhibitionists!

  21. hugodrax macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2007
    This is why I run my own private cloud. Synology running Surveillance Station and the only way to access is to VPN in and connect.

    Anything that sends your videos to a cloud means people can view everything going on, who knows how many employees do this for kicks etc.
  22. lunarworks macrumors 68000

    Jun 17, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    Like Alexa, I'll add this to a list of things I don't want in my house.
  23. cerote macrumors 6502a


    Mar 2, 2009
    That's how I use mine. Synology Surveillance is great product.
  24. pdaholic macrumors 65816


    Jun 22, 2011
    Guess I should stop walking around naked on my front porch where my ring doorbell might see me.
  25. cerote, Jan 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019

    cerote macrumors 6502a


    Mar 2, 2009
    Go with private NAS. I run Synology NAS with no outside connection of my network. I can VPN into my network and watch video feed. I still get alerts pushed when something come in camera and even have ability to talk through it.

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