Ecobee Smart Doorbell Camera
Ecobee -- best known for their line of smart thermostats -- has moved into the smart doorbell camera business now as well. Their Smart Doorbell Camera works with Alexa (reminder, Amazon's Alexa can be a bit snoopy on your privacy, so use Alexa to control your smart devices at your own risk). Ecobee says you can use your Smart Doorbell Camera to keep an eye on your home, greet (or yell at) visitors at your door, and hear the doorbell chime through your other speaker-enabled ecobee devices. How is ecobee at privacy? Well, they aren't terrible (don't use Alexa though), and they do say they'll process your video on the device, which helps. Here's hoping ecobee's new Smart Doorbell Camera stays on the straight and narrow when it comes to protecting your privacy, unlike video doorbells we've seen from Ring and Wyze. Fingers crossed!
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Ecobee does collect personal information on you. Things like name, address, email, telephone number, online identifiers such as IP addresses and device IDs, location information, as well as the SmartCameras’ recorded video and audio. Ecobee says that livestream video is encrypted and sent directly to your phone (without being recorded). They also say that any recordings or snapshots that you do save are visible in the mobile app and that when you delete them there, they are automatically deleted from the cloud too. Phew. Having that control over your data is a relief. Those long-distance chats with your dog are nobody’s business but yours. Ecobee even says that your videos will be deleted from their cloud server automatically when you uninstall the app. Now that’s something we would love to see as standard practice for smart home devices. They also say that they would require a court order to share them, which is again something we’d like to see more often.
Still, it’s important to know that ecobee can potentially collect a lot of data about you. The good news is, ecobee says they never sell your personal data. And they don’t seem to share your personal information with third parties for targeted, interest based advertising, which is also good....and rare!
The biggest privacy concern you’ll likely find with this smart camera is with the third party voice assistants you can use it with. Since ecobee’s Camera “works in harmony” with Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit, if you choose to control your camera using those assistants then that will let Amazon or Apple know more about you. But hey, Amazon and Apple probably know way too much about you already.
Ecobee reportedly also stood up to Amazon when they demanded Ecobee share more user data with them. From The Verge, “...the online retail giant asked Ecobee to share data from its Alexa-enabled smart thermostats, even when the customer wasn’t actively using the voice assistant. Ecobee reportedly refused to have its devices constantly report back to Amazon about the state of the user’s home, including data on which doors were locked or unlocked and the set temperature. The reasoning being that enabling its devices to report this data to Amazon would be a violation of its customer’s trust.” Good ecobee. Bad Amazon.
What’s the worst that could happen with your ecobee Smart Doorbell Camera. OK well, say your dog’s name sounds like “Alexa” or another one of the voice assistant’s “wake words” (Ziggy? Computer?). And say one day you are checking on your best furry friend when you say their name – you could accidentally initiate an audio recording that will get processed through Amazon. That would be a bummer if you are trying to limit the amount of information you share with that not-so-great-at-privacy company. Then again, in that case you probably wouldn’t have the Alexa app… Regardless! It’s your right to keep secrets between you and your BFF (Reflexa? Piggy?).
Tips to protect yourself
-Set up two-factor authentication
-If you connect to Alexa, delete your historical voice recordings from time to time, by saying “delete what I just said"
- When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data.
- Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
- Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
- Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
- Keep your app regularly updated
- Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
- Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, address, email, telephone number, online identifiers such as IP addresses and device IDs Geolocation data Home details (like house age, number of floors, etc.); Motion sensing (i.e., “occupancy sensing”) Environmental data such as temperature and humidity as well as operational data such as temperature set points from your HVAC equipment. Inferences (created by your ecobee Device relating to your energy usage)
Biometric information (gathered from your ecobee Devices) Audio, electronic, visual, thermal, olfactory, or similar information
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
No known incidents in the last 3 years.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
ecobee's privacy policies are generally good, but they are set up in such a way that it makes them hard to search through for key words, which we like to see to help consumers review privacy policies for words like "sell" and "children".
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
All network traffic is encrypted.
A password is required for the web portal and mobile app.
Ecobee runs a bug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid.
Generac Announces the Closing of Its Acquisition of ecobee Inc.Ecobee
Ecobee’s new thermostats are its best yetThe Verge
Ecobee wants you to give away your data. Here's why (Q&A)CNet
ecobee vs Nest: Don’t Overlook These 9 Crucial DifferencesThe Smart Cave
The Privacy Risks of Your Smart ThermostatVPN Overview
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