All the Data Amazon’s Ring Cameras Collect About You

Jolynn Dellinger, a senior professor focused on privacy and ethics at Duke University School of Law, says that recording audio when someone is on the street is a “serious problem” for privacy and can change the behavior of people “We operate with a sense of obscurity, even in public,” Dellinger says. “We are in danger of increasing the surveillance of everyday life in a way that is not consistent with either our expected views or what is really best for society.” In October 2021, a British woman won a court case that said her neighbour’s Ring cameras, which looked into her house and garden, breached data laws.

Ring’s privacy policy says it can save videos from subscribers to its Ring Protect plan, a paid service that provides a 180-day archive of captured video and audio. The company says people can log into the service to delete the videos, but ultimately the company can keep them anyway. “Deleted content and Ring Protect recordings may be stored by Ring to comply with certain legal obligations and may not be retrieved without a valid court order,” the privacy policy says. Ring spokeswoman Sarah Rall says this could apply if the company adds features or use cases that aren’t already covered by its privacy policy. “We provide additional notice or obtain permission as needed,” Rall says.

Ring can also keep shared videos on the Neighbors’ app, an app where people and law enforcement can share “crime” alerts and post their videos of what’s happening in homes. (There are rules about what people can post.)

Ring’s privacy policy and terms of service allow it to use all of the information it collects in multiple ways. It lists 14 ways the company may use your data, from improving the service Ring offers and protecting against fraud to conducting consumer research and complying with legal requirements. Its privacy policy includes the ambiguous statement: “We may also use the personal information we collect about you in other ways for which we provide specific notice at the time of collection and obtain your consent if required by law applicable”.

While Ring’s privacy policies apply to those who purchase its devices, people captured in images or audio do not have the opportunity to opt-in. “Customer privacy, security and control are central to Ring, and we take the protection of our customers’ personal and account information seriously,” says Rall.

Ultimately, you agree to give Ring permission to control the “content” you share, including audio and video, while you own the intellectual property. The company’s terms of service say you give it a “perpetual, worldwide, unlimited, irrevocable, royalty-free, royalty-free right” to store, use, copy or modify the content you share through Neighbors or elsewhere online. (Audio recording can be turned off in Ring settings.)

“When I went out shopping for a security camera last year, I only looked for ones that did local storage,” says Jen Caltrider, principal researcher at Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included, which evaluates privacy and security products. . Caltrider says people should try to keep as much control over their data as possible and not store files in the cloud unless they need to. “I don’t want any company to have this data that I can’t control. I want to be able to control it.”

How Ring works with the police

Ring’s deals with police forces in both the US and the UK have been controversial. For years, the company has partnered with law enforcement, providing them with cameras and doorbells that can be given to residents. By early 2021, Ring had partnered with more than 2,000 law enforcement and fire departments across the US. The documents have shown how Ring also monitors the public messages of police departments with which it has partnered. “There’s nothing compelling Ring to build an easily accessible and useful tool for police,” says Guariglia.

Rings’ terms of service say the company can “access, use, preserve and/or disclose” video and audio to “law enforcement authorities, government officials and/or third parties” if legally required or required to do so. to enforce your terms of service or resolve security issues. Government officials could include any “regulatory agency or legislative committee that issues a legally binding request for information,” Rall says. In the six months between January and June 2022, Ring says it had more than 3,500 requests from law enforcement in the US.

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