According to a Data Subject Access Request under the GDPR submitted by the BBC, Amazon’s Ring doorbells are recording and storing every conceivable interaction anyone has with the app and camera.
Why does Amazon and Ring feel the need to collect and hoard all of this data? They say they only use the information they gather to evaluate, manage and improve their products and services.
Independent privacy expert Frederike Kaltheuner, who viewed the data request, says there is a whole lot more to than that, and its definitely not as innocent as Amazon is trying to make it sound.
“What’s most interesting is not just the data itself, but all the patterns and insights that can be learned from it,” commented independent privacy expert Frederike Kaltheuner. “Knowing when someone rings your door, how often, and for how long, can indicate when someone is at home.”
That sort of data would certainly be useful to companies of a certain ilk.
“This isn’t just about privacy, but about the power and monetary value that is attached to this data,” she added.
So how specific is all of this data being collected by Amazon? Extremely.
The Ring doorbell records every motion being detected by the cameras’ sensors, every time the button had been pressed, all remote “on-demand” actions (such as viewing live video or speaking to the person at the door), including the length of time it took for each action.
It also records the type of mobile data connection and network supplier that is used, whenever the user “zoomed in” via a finger-pinch to view the footage more clearly, several different types of “screen taps,” the starting and ending times for each live view, and the latitude and longitude coordinates of the devices being used drilled all the way down to 13 decimal places.
As for the video that is always being recorded whenever an interaction occurs, Ring says it saves the clips for up to 30 days if the user has a subscription, then it is permanently deleted, otherwise no video is recorded.
When asked by the BBC if Ring and Amazon would ever share this data and other information with one another, like, say, the timestamps for when a person is at home to better schedule deliveries, Ring declined to answer.
As is almost always the case these days when it comes to technology, we give up a little bit more of our privacy each time we add another “smart” device or “helpful” app to our ever-growing arsenal of modern “conveniences.”