It’s no secret that our devices are listening in so companies can advertise to you. They use the phone’s microphone, which we enable and give permission to apps to use, and in turn, the companies use the data collected through our words to market products to us.
Facebook says it doesn’t listen to entire conversations, but there’s enough spying going on that sometimes I will get ads for things I was talking to my co-workers about in another room.
Now, Amazon’s Ring doorbell camera service is being accused of accessing customers camera feeds.
According to The Intercept:
Ring provided its Ukraine-based research and development team virtually unfettered access to a folder on Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world. This would amount to an enormous list of highly sensitive files that could be easily browsed and viewed. Downloading and sharing these customer video files would have required little more than a click.
They also gave their engineers and executives 24/7 access to customer’s cameras “regardless of whether they needed access to this extremely sensitive data to do their jobs.”
A Ring spokesperson told BGR:
“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.”
It’s all very 1984, yet the blame doesn’t solely rest on these companies. Should they be spying on us? Absolutely not! But how many of us read the terms of service that we agree to when using apps? By selecting “yes” we’re opening ourselves up to possible security breaches time and time again.