Buyer beware: The doorbell app, Ring, tracks and packs your personal data.
Now stop imagining, because this exact scenario is happening right now.
The company I’m referring to is Ring, and its app is packed with trackers that vacuum up your private data and send it practically everywhere.
According to Bill Budington at the EFF:
Four main analytics and marketing companies were discovered to be receiving information such as the names, private IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data on the devices of paying customers.
Your initial reaction might be to think that these pieces of information are relatively inconsequential and “no big deal.”
But the problem is, these bits of information link to other bits of information, and form a much more comprehensive privacy profile on you. And according to the EFF, not much information is needed to pin down your exact identity:
Mr. X lives in ZIP code 02138 and was born July 31, 1945. These facts about him were included in an anonymized medical record released to the public. Sounds like Mr. X is pretty anonymous, right?
Not if you’re Latanya Sweeney, a Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor who showed in 1997 that this information was enough to pin down Mr. X’s more familiar identity — William Weld, the governor of Massachusetts throughout the 1990s.
With just a zip code and birthdate, something every person in the U.S. has, it’s relatively simple to acquire your name. From there, the door is almost wide open for a massive invasion of your privacy.
According to Wolf Street, once these companies assemble Ring data: “This cohesive whole represents a fingerprint that follows the user as they interact with other apps and use their device, in essence providing trackers the ability to spy on what a user is doing in their digital lives and when they are doing it.”
The Ring doorbell was already caught giving out customer names and other information to these marketing companies. But that isn’t the worst part…
Now comes one of many potential uses of this data that is even more creepy…
Police departments can access your video feed!
The Ring doorbell has a video camera, so every move you or your neighbors make within its view is recorded.
And according to Techdirt: “Every Ring installed is another contributor to this ad hoc network of cameras — something both cops and Amazon have access to.”
This doorbell video surveillance network includes “fringe benefits” for your local police, including obtaining Ring doorbell video footage without a warrant:
“… there is a workaround if a resident happens to reject a police request. If the community member doesn’t want to supply a Ring video that seems vital to a local law enforcement investigation, police can contact Amazon, which will then essentially ‘subpoena’ the video.”
So even if someone doesn’t want to turn over their Ring doorbell video, all the police have to do is “contact Amazon” to get the video anyway. Yet another reason why it’s probably NOT a good idea to join the “Ring revolution.”
Bottom line, these companies don’t care about your privacy
There are public databases that track your exact location, eating habits, spending habits, your income, your online habits, and many other parts of your private life.
With just a few clicks, a phone call, and a few dollars almost everything someone wants to find out about you can quickly be put together into a complete file.
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P.S. Another Techdirt report revealed that Ring can be hacked easily, and even give up your Wi-Fi credentials. So if you want to preserve your privacy…
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