Since Amazon's purchase of connected home device company Ring, it has seemed that the brand cannot keep itself out of trouble. First was a series of data breaches, which included people having unwanted conversations with strangers who were connected to their indoor cameras. Then came a revelation that Ring gives access to video captured by cameras to law enforcement without a warrant, and without notifying the owner. The data is so readily available that Ring themselves might not even know when law enforcement is viewing your camera video.
As consumer confidence began to wane, and competition in the video doorbell space has heated up, the company released a Control Center during CES 2020. The new feature is intended to allow customers to manage their privacy settings, including opting out of police data sharing. However, it may not be quite as useful of a feature, as a study from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals that Ring shares data with way more than just law enforcement.
It turns out that Ring shares data with Facebook and Google, whether or not you have an account with these companies. The data shared includes "time zone, device model, language preferences, screen resolution, and a unique identifier." It all could have been made innocent, save for that last bit there. Through the unique identifier, the companies could use other telemetry data to determine exactly who you are, adding to their tracking capabilities. Ring told CBS News that customers will eventually be able to opt-out of this data sharing "where applicable," meaning that sometimes, you're in it whether you like it or not.
So, as of today, law enforcement, Facebook, and Google have access, either directly or indirectly, to the location of every Ring doorbell in use, and law enforcement has access to the video produced by those devices. This is a level above the privacy concerns that usually go along with connected home devices, which usually centers on the security of those platforms. Now we have to be concerned about the inappropriate sharing of our most private data, in this case, video of our homes, from the companies we are supposed to be able to trust with that data.