It seems that every day I have to rant about technology and its nefarious outcomes for us ordinary folks. Here’s the latest:
If you own a Ring doorbell camera system, we’ve got some bad news. The smart home company owned by Amazon, which the internet retail giant shelled out more than $1 billion to acquire, has apparently been violating its customers’ privacy in a pretty shocking way.
A new report from The Intercept quotes unnamed sources who confirm that engineers and executives at Ring have “highly privileged access” to live customer camera feeds, utilizing both Ring’s doorbells as well as its in-home cameras. All that’s apparently required to tap into the live feeds is a customer’s email address. Meaning the company has been so egregiously lax when it comes to security and privacy that even people outside the company could have potentially done this, using merely an email address to begin spying on customers, according to the report.
Within the company, a team that was supposed to have been focused on helping Ring get better at object recognition in videos caught customers in videos doing everything from kissing to firing guns and stealing.
This news, we should add, also comes less than a month after Ring was in the news for a different potential privacy flap. As BGR reported, a new patent application has begun to spur fears that Amazon would use Ring as a tool for creepy surveillance.
I have a suggestion: don’t buy any electronic device made by Amazon. This would include the Alexa spy system, the Ring spy system and any other so-called “efficent” things that purport to make your life easier, but in fact only make it easier for others to spy on you.
If I had one of these horrible things, the last video it would ever record is me firing a gun… at the camera.
And I find offerings by the other tech companies (e.g. Google Home, Apple Siri) equally disgusting. As Pop Mech says:
Companies like Google, and Amazon, and Facebook let us down, but they were always going to. Absent significant changes to the nature of the tech industry or wide-ranging regulation, they always will. The problems arise when we act as though they won’t.
The only way to win is not to play. And I won’t, unless I can dictate the rules.