Is Ring owned by Amazon? What Ring Knows About You? IF YOU WALK through your local neighborhood—providing you live in a reasonably large town or city—you’ll be caught on camera. Government CCTV cameras may record your stroll, but it is increasingly likely that you’ll also be captured by one of your neighbors’ security cameras or doorbells. It’s even more likely that the camera will be made by Ring, the doorbell and security camera firm owned by Amazon.
Since Amazon splashed out more than a billion dollars for the company in 2018, Ring’s security products have exploded in popularity. Ring has simultaneously drawn controversy for making deals (and sharing data) with thousands of police departments, helping expand and normalize suburban surveillance, and falling to a string of hacks. While the cameras can provide homeowners with reassurance that their property is secure, critics say the systems also run the risk of reinforcing racism and racial profiling and eroding people’s privacy.
Is Ring owned by Amazon?
Ring’s new CEO Liz Hamren announced in an email to employees today that founder Jamie Siminoff is leaving the video doorbell company and Amazon altogether. Siminoff says he founded Ring after looking for a way to answer his door from his smartphone while tinkering in his garage, and then Amazon reportedly paid more than $1 billion to acquire the company in 2018, adding it to a growing suite of smart home security products.
When Siminoff announced in March that Hamren would take over for him as CEO of Ring, he said, “I decided to shift my role to Chief Inventor,” but today’s message from Hamren explains that “Jamie is leaving Amazon to pursue a new opportunity” while saying the company’s focus hasn’t changed. Hamren previously worked on products including Oculus and Xbox and was the COO of Discord.
Amazon spokesperson Yassi Yarger confirmed Siminoff’s departure, saying, “Jamie has been an incredible founder and inventor, building a product that is now used by customers across the world. He has also been a great colleague since Amazon and Ring came together back in 2018 — we thank him for his many contributions, and wish him the very best for the future.”
What Ring Knows About You?
Ring gets your name, phone number, email and postal address, and any other information you provide to it—such as payment information or your social media handles if you link your Ring account to Facebook, for instance. The company also gets information about your Wi-Fi network and its signal strength, and it knows you named your camera “Secret CIA Watchpoint,” as well as all the other technical changes you make to your cameras or doorbells.
In March 2020, a BBC information request revealed that Ring keeps detailed records of people’s doorbell activity. Every doorbell press was logged. Each motion the camera detected was stored. And details were saved every time someone zoomed in on footage on their phone. In just 129 days, 4906 actions were recorded. (Ring says it does not sell people’s data.)
Ring can also collect the video and audio your camera records—the system doesn’t record all the time, but it can be triggered when it senses movement. Ring says its cameras can detect movement “up to 155 degrees horizontally” and across distances of up to 25 feet. This means there’s a good chance cameras can be triggered by people walking down the street or pick up conversations of passersby. According to tests by Consumer Reports, some Ring cameras can record audio from about 20 feet away.
Jolynn Dellinger, a senior lecturing fellow focusing on privacy and ethics at Duke University’s school of law, says recording audio when someone is on the street is a “serious problem” for privacy and may change how people behave. “
We operate with a sense of obscurity, even in public,” Dellinger says. “We are in danger of increasing surveillance of everyday life in a way that is not consistent with either our expected views or really what’s best for society.” In October 2021, a British woman won a court case that said her neighbor’s Ring cameras, which overlooked her house and garden, broke data laws.
Amazon’s Ring quietly fixed security flaw that put users’ camera recordings at risk of exposure
Amazon-owned Ring quietly fixed a “high-severity” security vulnerability in May that could have allowed malicious actors to access camera recordings from Ring video doorbells and extract users’ personal data.
Researchers at Atlanta-based application security company Checkmarx discovered the flaw when analyzing Ring’s app for Android. This app allows users to monitor footage recorded on video doorbells and security cameras, and has been downloaded more than 10 million times.
The researchers found that the app had several bugs, which when chained together could have allowed attackers to exploit the vulnerability by creating and publishing a malicious app — or pushing an update to an existing app — running on the same device. If a would-be victim is tricked into installing a malicious app, it would allow the attackers to obtain authentication cookies, which are small files that keeps a user persistently logged in without having to constantly re-enter their passwords.
With these cookies, an attacker could access a user’s account without their password, allowing the malicious app to steal a Ring user’s full name, email address, phone number and Ring device data, such as camera recordings and geolocation data.
Checkmarx said that successful attackers could extract more information from Ring camera recordings themselves, like information in documents or on computer screens visible to a Ring camera, or to track people’s movements in and out of rooms or buildings.
Ring fixed the issue on May 27 in version 3.51.0 of the Ring Android app, and told Checkmarx that no customer data was exposed. When reached, Ring spokesperson Claudia Fellerman confirmed to TechCrunch that Ring fixed the vulnerability.
Ring was acquired by Amazon for about $1 billion in 2018. The video doorbell maker has since expanded its law enforcement partnerships to more than 2,200 police departments across the U.S., allowing police to request video doorbell camera footage from homeowners. Ring gave a record amount of user data and customer video recordings to authorities last year, and shared customers’ footage with police 11 times without the account owner’s consent in 2022 so far.
Earlier this year TechCrunch revealed a security flaw in Ring’s Neighbors app was exposing the precise locations and home addresses of users who had posted to the app.
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