Amazon Ring Always Home Cam

Warning: *privacy not included with this product

Amazon Ring Always Home Cam

Amazon
Wi-Fi

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Super creepy

A flying indoor HD security camera made by Amazon Ring that zooms about your home. Creepy? Cool? Both? This little flying camera can navigate around a single story of your home on custom preset flight paths (up to 50 of them) so you can get a bird's eye view of what's going on. As long as what's going on doesn't take more than 5 minutes to see and as long as it doesn't happen on another story of your house. And if this little flying camera encounters an object in the way, it will return to its base. So, maybe not the best home security option just yet. Especially if you've got a cat who likes to chase flying things (so, most cats) or a home with more than one story.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Amazon’s Ring Always Home flying drone cam just feels creepy. To be fair, Amazon has seemingly taken steps to help protect users’ privacy with things like set flight paths and a dock the drone sits on when not in use that hides the camera and prevents recording, which is great. As a privacy researcher though, a drone that zooms around your home with the goal of surveillance feels pretty creepy. But feeling creepy doesn’t mean it is. Until you look a little deeper at Amazon’s Ring privacy track record.

Ring has a history of not protecting users' privacy. At one point they reportedly stored customer data--including video recordings--unencrypted on an Amazon cloud server and employees could access any of this data. There have also been reported data leaks and concerns that the Ring Doorbell app is full of third-party trackers tracking a good amount of personal information that Amazon Ring doesn’t disclose. They have gotten more transparent in their privacy and data deletion practices, which we appreciate. And they added two-factor authentication to help protect users in 2020, which was a great step forward. One we here at Mozilla pushed hard for.

Then there is the problematic relationship Ring has with law enforcement where questions of racism, warrantless surveillance, and police overreach still linger. While Amazon says they are distancing themselves from law enforcement access to users' video and requiring more transparency in the process, they are still facilitating law enforcement access with this product and the Neighbors app and that leaves us concerned.

Finally, there are the questions of privacy violations of the neighbors of people who use home surveillance cameras -- not just Ring but all of home surveillance cameras. A recent court case in the UK highlighted this when a woman sued her neighbor for infringing on her privacy when his Ring security cameras were found pointed at her home. Not only could his cameras see her, they could also listen to her as well. She won her case and $137,000.

All in all, this flying security camera raises too many questions about transparency, data protection, public safety, and racism in our opinion and we feel could come with *privacy not included.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Make sure you are comfortable with the fact that local police may require the footage.
  • Think about all of the personal events cameras inside and outside of your home will capture.
  • Use strong passwords & unique usernames
  • When setting up the path for your camera, be aware of your privacy. Avoid places that you do not want to be recorded.
  • Delete footage as often as possible
  • Limit third-party trackers in the Ring app
  • Manage your Alexa privacy settings
mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: Yes

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Ring says they do not sell data. However, it shares it with numerous third parties, for purposes that include marketing. In January 2020, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found out the Ring app is sharing data with many others trackers not mentioned in the policy. Also, EFF discovered that the data shared with the trackers included full names, email addresses, device information such as OS version and model, whether bluetooth is enabled, and app settings such as the number of locations a user has Ring devices installed in. Even small amounts of information allow tracking companies to form a “fingerprint” that follows the user as they interact with other apps and use their device, allowing trackers to spy on a user’s digital life.

How can you control your data?

You may delete your recordings from Ring Protect at any time by accessing your account. In addition, to the extent required by applicable law, you may have the right to request access to or delete your personal data (that is, if you are covered by CCPA or GDPR). No retention details are provided.

In addition, law enforcement can make a video request in the Neighbors app to ask the community to assist in an investigation. Police who download videos from customer cameras may be able to keep them indefinitely, depending on local laws.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Bad

In November 2019, a security vulnerability in Amazon's Ring Video Doorbell Pro devices could have allowed attackers to exploit the internet-connected doorbell to intercept the owner's wi-fi credentials.

In 2019, Motherboard reported on how Ring's weak security and compromised email addresses and passwords left Ring cameras easy to hack.

In December 2020, a class action lawsuit was filed alleging lax security measures at Ring, allowed hackers to take over their devices.

In August 2020, security researchers from Check Point pointed out a flaw in Amazon's Alexa smart home devices that could have allowed hackers access to personal information and conversation history. Amazon promptly fixed the bug.

In October 2020, Amazon fired an employee for leaking customer email addresses to an unnamed third party.

In October 2019, Forbes reported that Amazon employees were listening to Amazon Cloud Cam recording, to train its AI algorithm.

In April 2019, it was revealed that thousands of employees, many of whom are contract workers and some not even directly employed by Amazon, had access to both voice and text transcripts of Alexa interactions.

Can this product be used offline?

No

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Videos are encrypted in storage and during transmission. Ring offers end-to-end encryption. https://blog.ring.com/2020/09/24/ring-announces-end-to-end-encryption-privacy-security-and-user-control-updates/

Strong password

Yes

Two-factor authentication is now mandatory after major pressure from Mozilla and other groups.

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Amazon Ring has abug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid.

Privacy policy

Yes

Ring has a webpage dedicated to explaining its privacy pillars and answering frequently asked questions

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Ring cameras use camera-based motion detection to start recording.

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

No

Does the user have control over the AI features?

No


News

Amazon's Ring drone camera sets a bad precedent for privacy
CNET
Depending on your point of view, Ring's new drone cam could be a symbol of a shining, robotic future, or it could be a harbinger of darker days ahead.
Amazon asks Ring owners to respect privacy after court rules usage broke law
The Guardian
Amazon has urged owners of its Ring security cameras and doorbells – which come with a camera and microphone – to respect neighbours’ privacy after a court ruled their use broke data laws.
How to secure your Ring security camera (because Amazon won’t do it for you)
Mozilla
If you own a Ring security camera or doobell, turning on two-factor authentication (2FA) is one step you––and everyone in your family––should take right now to secure your household’s device. Here’s how:
Amazon’s Ring is the largest civilian surveillance network the US has ever seen
The Guardian
In a 2020 letter to management, Max Eliaser, an Amazon software engineer, said Ring is “simply not compatible with a free society”. We should take his claim seriously. Ring video doorbells, Amazon’s signature home security product, pose a serious threat to a free and democratic society. Not only is Ring’s surveillance network spreading rapidly, it is extending the reach of law enforcement into private property and expanding the surveillance of everyday life. What’s more, once Ring users agree to release video content to law enforcement, there is no way to revoke access and few limitations on how that content can be used, stored, and with whom it can be shared.
Amazon's helping police build a surveillance network with Ring doorbells
CNET
If you're walking in Bloomfield, New Jersey, there's a good chance you're being recorded. But it's not a corporate office or warehouse security camera capturing the footage -- it's likely a Ring doorbell made by Amazon. While residential neighborhoods aren't usually lined with security cameras, the smart doorbell's popularity has essentially created private surveillance networks powered by Amazon and promoted by police departments.
Amazon Ring doorbells exposed home Wi-Fi passwords to hackers
TechCrunch
Security researchers have discovered a vulnerability in Ring doorbells that exposed the passwords for the Wi-Fi networks to which they were connected.
Amazon’s Ring Is a Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats
Matthew Guariglia
Doors across the United States are now fitted with Amazon’s Ring, a combination doorbell-security camera that records and transmits video straight to users’ phones, to Amazon’s cloud—and often to the local police department. By sending photos and alerts every time the camera detects motion or someone rings the doorbell, the app can create an illusion of a household under siege. It turns what seems like a perfectly safe neighborhood into a source of anxiety and fear. This raises the question: do you really need Ring, or have Amazon and the police misled you into thinking that you do?
For Owners of Amazon’s Ring Security Cameras, Strangers May Have Been Watching Too
The Intercept
Ring has a history of lax, sloppy oversight when it comes to deciding who has access to some of the most precious, intimate data belonging to any person: a live, high-definition feed from around — and perhaps inside — their house.
Amazon-Owned Ring Shared Data About Tracking Kids On Halloween
BuzzFeed News
The home surveillance company owned by Amazon bragged on Instagram about taping millions of kids going door to door.
Amazon’s Ring Camera Has an Eavesdropping Problem
Bloomberg
Its doorbell camera can pick up neighborhood conversations at the end of a driveway by default. That needs to change.

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