January 30, 2020
Amazon Ring, HAL 9000… So Similar… Coincidence? I think not.
I guess the type of bugmen who purchased and used Amazon’s Alexa weren’t satisfied with merely installing microphones in their homes that constantly upload everything they say and do to a corporate server. They just had to send more of their information to their corporate overlords.
So now we’ve got the Amazon doorbell, “Ring,” which sends a video feed of people’s homes straight to Amazon’s web servers, as well as various other information.
Of course, as expected, that information is carefully guarded by Amazon and… Oops, nevermind. It’s being leaked all over the place.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation found the Ring app was “packed” with third-party tracking, sending out customers’ personally identifiable information.
Five companies were receiving a range of information, including names, IP addresses and mobile networks, it said.
Ring said it limited the amount of data it shared.
The company told Gizmodo: “Like many companies, Ring uses third-party service providers to evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimise the customer experience and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing.”
Implying Amazon has ever had any interest in their “users’ privacy.” Amazon is only interested in using user data to sell people more stuff.
Also, in creating a cyberpunk dystopia.
Expecting Amazon to protect people’s data is like putting the wolf in charge of protecting the sheep.
“The danger in sending even small bits of information is that analytics and tracking companies are able to combine these bits together to form a unique picture of the user’s device,” the EFF said.
“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 users is doing in their digital lives and when they’re doing it.”
The five companies identified as receiving information were:
Facebook, via its Graph API – each user’s time zone, device model and screen resolution and a unique identifier
Branch, which describes itself as a deep-linking platform – a number of unique identifiers, as well as each user’s IP address, device model and screen resolution
AppsFlyer, a big data company – a range of information, including sensor data related to the magnetometer, gyroscope and accelerometer on users’ phones
MixPanel – the most information, including users’ full names, email addresses, device information and app settings
Google-owned Crashalytics – an amount of customer data “yet to be determined”
Out of these, only MixPanel is mentioned in Ring’s privacy notice, along with Google Analytics, HotJar and Optimizely.
The investigation by EFF tested Ring for Android, version 3.21.1.
Amazon, which bought Ring in 2018 and sells a range of home security cameras as well as doorbells, has been criticised for partnering with at least 200 law-enforcement agencies to carry out surveillance via its devices.
Again, even if this information wasn’t being sent to all these other companies, it’s still in the possession of Amazon – one of the world’s biggest megacorporations.
The Ring doorbell is constantly filming and recording the outside of people’s homes, and since the device allows people to access this feed from anywhere, then it’s obviously being sent to a central server somewhere. Even if the whole feed isn’t constantly being sent out, it would be trivial to program some kind of motion detection algorithm to send compressed images of everyone who visits the home, along with the voice recording.
Along with the IP information, it could detect and identify all the people who visit the Ring’s owner’s home.
Needless to say, it steps up the surveillance to another level.
It’s amazing that people are installing these surveillance systems in their homes of their own accord.
In 1984, party members only had one telescreen at home. Bugmen, on the other hand, put all sorts of surveillance devices in their homes.
Yet in spite of the fact that these people are cramming their houses and bodies full of microphones, cameras and other sensors which are constantly connected to the internet, they don’t feel as though they are under “surveillance.”
I guess it doesn’t count as surveillance unless the people doing the surveillance are called bad guys by CNN and the New York Times.