Say “hi!” to the 21st century home surveillance designed to make sure you and your loved ones are safe. But don’t forget to also greet the unexpected guests…
–Stop reading here if you’re convinced your phone listens to your conversations to shows you ads. The info that follows may be too sensitive.–
Yup, we’ve just about made it. The smart house is getting closer and closer to the grasp of our hands. But that comes with a price, it seems.
Ring Video Doorbell App, or Ring App, is an Amazon product that you can install together with your doorbell (or not) and connect to your WiFi. It tells you who shows up at the door and lets you interact with them, even if you are at work or out doing the groceries.
You can actually upgrade it by paying a monthly subscription. With the upgraded package you get to film everything and save the videos which can then be shared on social media. So that’s where all those Amazon delivery videos are coming from. Cool, huh?
So far, so good.
To quote an infomercial legend, “but wait, there’s more.”
We couldn’t talk about a company as large as Amazon and not talk about privacy. For starters, not everyone would like to be filmed while ringing your door, and worse, that video you didn’t want taken of you can be effortlessly shared on social media. Sure, all those Amazon delivery videos are so cheery but if you think about it, its Amazon employees being recorded by Amazon cameras everywhere they go. Creepy.
There has been some controversy around this since Amazon acquired Ring in 2018. Not so long ago, a man from Alabama, USA, denounced Ring after a hacker spoke to his children through the Ring camera. He’s now taking legal actions against Amazon.
And to make matters worse, it was recently discovered that the app was sharing sensitive data with third parties. The five companies that were receiving information were:
- Google, through CrashAnalytics
The Electronic Frontier Foundation found out that the app was sending user data like names, IP addresses or mobile networks from their customers, or PII (personally identifiable information). This info gives them the capability to track people and see how they interact with other apps.
The company admitted using third-party providers to evaluate the use of the app and improve it, of course.
But the EFF concluded that they weren’t taking care of the users’ privacy and that these little bits of information isolated were fine but when the data is compiled to create a bigger picture of their profiles, they are then able to see how users interacted with the digital world.
Even one of Amazon’s software development engineers, Max Eliaser, said that the app “should be shut down immediately and not brought back”.
Ring has promised to make sure to protect people’s privacy but this whole issue fuels a fire in regards to the on-going debate over privacy and our ever-digitalized world.
How far do you think technology has integrated into our private lives? Let us know your opinion.