A recent security update from Amazon Ring is a step in the right direction. However it’s not available for all users and doesn't address big concerns like Ring’s police partnerships and culture of surveillance.
Amazon Ring announced that owners of 13 device models will be able to enable end-to-end encryption globally. The benefit of end-to-end encryption is that your information – in this case, videos from your Ring devices – are secure from the device to your phone or tablet. That means no one but you can view your videos, not even Amazon.
That encryption will come in handy. Amazon is alarmingly cozy with law enforcement. And in the past its employees have been fired for accessing customer videos.
Unfortunately, end-to-end encryption isn’t available for all Amazon Ring devices, and it’s not clear why. And for Ring owners whose devices are compatible with end-to-end encryption, turning it on requires a LOT of steps.
This update also doesn’t alter Amazon’s cynical business: profiting off of – and stoking – people’s fear of crime. When Amazon encourages customers to share “suspicious activity” using Ring, it propagates the idea that surveillance is a panacea.
By only supporting some device types, Amazon isn’t offering universal end-to-end encryption. If you’re in the market for a video doorbell, we recommend you consider options other than Amazon Ring. Check out our *Privacy Not Included buyers’ guide to learn more.