A software engineer for e-commerce giant Amazon has called for the immediate shutdown of the company’s Ring security camera business, stating the privacy issues the company has faced are “not fixable.”
Business Insider reports that Max Eliaser, an Amazon software-development engineer was quoted in a post published on Medium on Sunday that Amazon’s home-security camera company Ring should be “shut down immediately.”
Eliaser stated in the article: “The deployment of connected home security cameras that allow footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society. The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation and there is no balance that can be struck. Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back.”
Ring, which develops video doorbells and home security systems, was acquired by Amazon in 2018 and has faced numerous privacy issues in recent years. Many of the issues related to the company’s agreements with law enforcement agencies and hackers gaining access to users’ devices.
Breitbart News reported in December 2019 that owners of Amazon Ring home security cameras reported incidents of their camera’s being hacked. Owners of the cameras in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and Texas all reported that hackers accessed their cameras and used their speakers to subject them to racial abuse, encourage children to engage in destructive behavior, and even demanded a ransom in Bitcoin.
Ashley Lemay, a mother from Mississippi told ABC’s Good Morning America: “I can’t even put into words how violated I feel. It really is like my worst nightmare.” Lemay had installed a Ring camera in her daughter’s room to watch over her while she worked overnight shifts as a nurse, but four days after installing the camera her eight-year-old daughter Alyssa heard music and a banging noise coming from the room where the camera was installed.
Alyssa investigated and while searching for the source of the noise heard a voice telling her: “I’m Santa Claus, don’t you want to be my best friend?” The voice then taunted Alyssa and encouraged her to beak her TV and destroy her room before her father heard what was happening and shut the camera off. “I was even scared of my room for a few days. I’m still a little bit scared of it,” Alyssa told Good Morning America.
In August 2019, Breitbart News reported that according to internal police emails dated April 2019, more than 225 police departments have partnered with Ring, granting the departments access to the “law enforcement portal” in Rings Neighbors app. Through this portal, police can request access to videos captured via Ring doorbell cameras. Ring claims that it does not provide the personal information of its customer to authorities without consent.
Amazon’s Ring has also successfully become an intermediary through which police departments can request access to footage captured through Ring devices. Ring claims that when police make a request, they don’t know who receives it until the user chooses to share the video from their Ring device.