Update – Ring has since reached out to clarify that annotation on videos is only done for publicly shared Ring videos. They also denied the initial reports and stated that “Ring does not provide employees with access to livestreams of Ring devices.”
Ring, the company known for their smart doorbells, is coming under fire recently where according to a report from The Intercept (via 9to5Google), it seems that the company gave employees full access to the live camera feeds of their customers. This included the ones facing outwards, but also cameras inside the homes of customers.
It was even reported that the company has a team tasked with object identification where it would tag things like “people kissing”, or “stealing”, or “firing guns”. According to their source, they claim that they have not seen anyone actually abuse the footage that they had access to, but the fact that they do is rather worrying. After all such devices are meant to help keep us secure, and this definitely doesn’t feel like it.
It was also reported that Ring engineers also spied on each other where they later teased each other about the dates that they brought home. It also seems to be rather easy to access the cameras and all they needed was an email address, meaning that it wouldn’t be too difficult for them to spy on a competitor.
Ring has since responded to the report in a statement provided by a spokesperson that reads:
“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.”