Amazon Ring Doorbells Log Every Action and App Use To The Millisecond

This has profound privacy implications, even without malicious intent

Why This Matters

The BBC requested data from Amazon about its Ring Doorbell system and found that it collects an incredible amount of information on users.

Ring Doorbell
Ring Doorbell. Getty Images/Smith Collection/Gado

The BBC reported that Amazon's Ring Doorbell (and Indoor Cams) collect a surprising amount of data on the usage of the devices, from exact time of doorbell presses to specific coordinates of the doorbells themselves.

As it stands: The request was made in January 2020, and the data returned covered a period from September 28, 2019 through February 3, 2020. There were over 1,900 specific "camera events" in the document, including detected motions, doorbell "dings," and any remote action by users to see the live video feed or talk to a visitor.

Even anonymous data can have privacy implications.

In addition, the latitude and longitude of each device, including the one running the Ring app, were recorded, down to 13 decimal places, which (in theory) could indicate where a device was to the nearest 0.00001mm, said the BBC.

What's the problem: An independent privacy expert told the BBC that the data itself is only the beginning of the issue.

"Even anonymous data can have privacy implications, for instance about the collective privacy of, say, a housing block, a group of people, or a household unit," she told the BBC.

Having the pattern of who and what comes to your door says a lot about you as a person, and no matter how "anonymized" Amazon promises to make the data, the larger aggregation of such information can be useful to retailers, law enforcement, and even governmental agencies.

The bottom line: While the BBC points out that Amazon and Ring keep their data separate, it does look to a future where data could be shared between the home security division and the retail one. There's also no indication that Amazon or Ring are using this data for any purpose.

Ultimately, we all bear a responsibility to demand transparency about data collection and use from our smart gadgets, and whether we let them into our home at all to begin with.

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