A short while ago I wrote an article (Bellingham Parking Fees Go To Volkswagen) on all the surveillance “extras” that accrue to users of the PayByPhone app to pay for parking in Bellingham. Although not sponsored or encouraged by the city as far as I know, the new RING video doorbell and its accompanying app, yet another gift from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, are very likely tracking much more than whoever appears at your front door. So reports Karl Paul for the Guardian in his article of January 29th (Smart doorbell company Ring may be surveilling users through its app).
”Every time a customer opens the Ring app, it sends information to Facebook about the user, including the time zone, device model, language preferences, screen resolution, and a unique identifier, the report found.
It also sends information to the data company AppsFlyer, including user actions, mobile carrier, and when Ring was first installed and launched, the report found. In addition, it shares data from sensors installed on the phone, including a magnetometer, gyroscope, and accelerometer, and current calibration settings.
MixPanel, a business analytics firm, receives the most information, the report found, including users’ full names, email addresses, device information such as operating system (OS) version and model, whether Bluetooth is enabled, and the number of Ring devices installed.”
Like PayByPhone, RING tells its customers that the information is collected to “optimize the customer experience…and evaluate ...effectiveness.” Yes, it is all for you who buy this product because Jeff Bezos loves you and wants to protect you.
“The report is the latest controversy for Ring, which faced increased scrutiny in 2019 for its partnerships with police forces across the US, quietly expanding a privately owned surveillance system. It is also the target of a number of class action lawsuits after many of its cameras were hacked and used to harass users.”
How is that to inspire confidence?
I have seen no indication that RING partners with our local police forces, however, verbum sat sapienti est.* For me, I am content with my dumb doorbell (see photo above) which, when it rings, surprisingly tells me someone is at the door. I then look out the window to identify the person. If I am not at home and the person forces entry, an alarm worse than a BNSF train whistle at 10 feet will greet the intruder and immediately render the miscreant deaf. Low tech works for me… rama lama ding dong!
*A word to the wise is sufficient.