Home security device manufacturer Ring has admitted to terminating four of its employees for accessing users’ videos beyond what’s necessary.
The Amazon-owned firm Ring admitted in a letter to US Senators that it has fired four employees authorized to view users’ videos but accessing them “exceeded what was necessary for their job functions”.
Ring has recently been facing questions regarding the security and privacy of its devices. In November 2019, five Democratic senators sent a letter to Amazon chief executive officer (CEO) Jeff Bezos asking about security, including why employees in Ring’s Ukrainian office, where it conducts research and development, had access to customer video data.
In response to the Senators’ letters, Amazon explained that the team based there could watch only publicly available videos and videos from employees, contractors and their friends who had consented to be part of the program.
It also stated that a “very limited number of employees (currently three) have the ability to access stored customer videos for the purpose of maintaining Ring’s AWS [Amazon web services] infrastructure”.
Over the course of four years, the company had received four complaints that employees were watching customers’ videos, and in each of those cases, the employees were terminated.
In 2019, several customers have complained about the security of Ring’s home devices, which range from indoor and outdoor cameras to smart doorbells. In Alabama, John Orange filed a lawsuit after a stranger allegedly compromised his outdoor camera and terrified his children.
In Florida, a hacker targeted a family and shouted racial abuse via a Ring device.
Ring is planning to require new users of its devices to sign up to its service to activate two-factor authentication. The company has also developed a privacy dashboard on the app that enables customers to manage their devices and who has access to them.