Ring video doorbell is one of many video doorbell makers. Besides Ring (purchased by Amazon), August (purchased by Yale), Nest (purchased by Google), there are a handful of others. The problem is, who gets access to your video?
For Ring, this answer is problematic. They partnered with over 200 police departments, giving them free cameras, and access to see who has a Ring camera installed in their jurisdiction using the Ring Neighborhood Police Portal.
Some of these partnerships require police to promote Ring to their local communities. In return, police earn credit toward free Ring cameras for each resident who downloads Ring’s app as a result of the partnership.
Washington DC pays residents over $500 dollars per camera… with the agreement that they will volunarily give access to all video to the police. Ring has filed patent applications on facial recognition with the doorbell camera, and Amazon (who owns Ring) has their Rekognition facial recognition they’ve been shopping to law enforcement.
Using police to push downloading the app and buying cameras is scurrilous. But that’s not the only thing Ring has done that is noteworthy.
In January, it was uncovered that Ring had allowed developers in the Ukraine Ring offices to access to a folder on Amazon?s S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world. The video was stored unencrypted, because the company felt that “encryption would make the company less valuable.”
In the US, executives and engineers were given complete access to the Ring technical support tools, which also gave them unfiltered, 24/7 live feeds from customer cameras.
We understand the utility of doorbell cameras in catching porch thieves or not answering the door to solicitors, but we prefer a system we have control over, either HomeKit or a system that uses a local network video recorder for storage. I removed Ring from my home when these reports started coming out. Nothing I’ve heard since has made me want to reinstall it. Because these problems keep happening with Ring, we’ll be reviewing competing systems like those, soon.