Amazon’s Ring drone camera sets a bad precedent for privacy


The ring’s Always Home Cam has a camera under its propellers, which will be covered when docked.


Amazon’s declining hardware phenomenon has come and gone, and as always, it delivered a jetstream of announcements, including new Echo smart speakers, an all-new cloud gaming platform and – perhaps most interestingly – one from Amazon’s home security brand Flying camera drone is included. , ring. Yes, The Ring Always Home Cam can literally mean undone, hovering in a given room and called a break-in.

Depending on your point of view, the ring’s new drone cam may symbolize a shiny, robotic future, or it may be darker of the days ahead. Ring says its new camera is safe and private, and with the launch date of “early 2021” you won’t have to worry about it this year, but regardless of the specifics on release, Always Home Cam Is a bad example.

Privacy equation

Trade-offs at the core of most privacy debates feature against access to your data. The idea is that the more data you let the tech giants reach, the better they can help you: Google’s services, ranging from Gmail to Google Maps, are prime examples of this business at work. Google says that it can be informed by everything it knows about your preferences, from ads to restaurant recommendations.

Let’s be honest: the Minor feature is the one that works in this drone. You get five minutes of battery life, meaning you will have enough time to check the sounds of entry in the event of a break-in – or more. Double check your stove to make sure that you have turned it off or to make sure your dog is alive. (Spoiler: that is)

A theft is going on in an unexpected situation, will a drone equipped with a camera change the outcome? Would this be a more effective deterrent than, say, alarms, or intrinsically identifying intruders at the points of entry and strategically compared to pairs of indoor or outdoor smart cams?

The answer to both is probably “no”.

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Always Home Cam will be released in 2021 for $ 250.


Cost count

Crucially, the cam does not cost $ 250. It is also your privacy. Sure, the camera is blocked while docking. And the drone patrols only when you tell it to. But Amazon is systematically increasing the freedom and reach of its home technology, making Alexa particularly more proactive and predictive.

Alexa Guard and Guard Plus listen for a wide range of noises, such as glass breaking and footfalls, and Amazon is expanding the voice assistant’s ability to respond to such noises – including children crying, dogs barking, people. Includes snoring and more. I’d be surprised to see Amazon’s cam drone No Offering active monitoring in response to some noise upon release next year.

But such features only raise more questions, and are serious at that. Ring has partnered with hundreds of police forces nationwide in efforts to reduce crime (although, as we have reported, evidence suggests that such cooperation does not reduce crime rates). Along the way, experts have raised the alarm at being ethical slippery: coordinated video surveillance, curated by Amazon and even partially accessible to police, is a major blow to privacy.

This is all for hoop cameras Outdoor. Think about the complications added by cameras patrolling inside your home. When I arrived to inquire about specific security and privacy measures, a ring spokesperson said, “Always Home Cam was designed as a privacy-first option, especially for customers who want the entire home Want the benefits of security, but don’t want to install cameras in every room in your house – such as a bathroom or bedroom. ”

They went on to list the device’s limitations, including its inability to move up or down the stairs, its loud motor, its lack of a microphone, and more.


Finally, the representative offered the usual response about cooperation with police: “Ring receives and responds to legally binding law enforcement requests for user information on a regular basis … [But the company will not] Reveal video recording [without customer consent] Unless required to obey the law or… there is an emergency related to the risk of death or serious injury ”(emphasis added).

To answer, I agree that the Ring Always Home Cam is a better option than putting cameras in your bathroom, though bathroom cams (which are fine for reasons of privacy illegally for public reasons) They are not the standards against which we should handle our home. security devices.

Although the technical limitations of Always Home Cam certainly help maintain some degree of privacy-consideration on the part of the ring, the camera still sets a problematic precedent. Once these cameras are adopted more widely, any incremental “improvements” in security, such as microphones or longer battery life, will necessarily result in privacy degradation.
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At its Fall hardware event, Amazon showed footage taken from an Always Home cam.Adventuress

Ring’s response to questions about police involvement was particularly disappointing due to its long history Beginning Cooperation with police forces – as their growing network of police “partners.” The day before, Ring’s parent company, Amazon, attempted to calm concerns from privacy analysts about it SIDCUL project expansion By comparing its service to the postal service. Amazon helps direct your data, but “open it and don’t read it,” as it were.

Conversely, the ring repeatedly thinks they are More than wish To open your private data and share it with the police. Although Apple refuses to unlock iPhones related to terrorists, Ring happily reaches out to police departments and acts, as their requests for your personal data should be honored without a fight.

Doing math

The user data / feature equation here seems clear to me. The Ring Always Home Cam is not Google Maps, which helps us navigate our world, collecting data from our daily travels. It is also not Facebook, which allows us to connect with distant friends, collecting data on our lives. This is a camera-equipped, flying drone to install in your home, which will double-check you… well, you can double-check on apps like Light and Door Lock already. It welcomes a company with a more patchy record than Clean to keep footage of your most private locations.

Will Always Home Cam Turn Your Reality Into Dystopian More Than Ever? Probably right there. But it is taking steps in that direction. My take: Frog water should not wait for the water to become uncomfortable due to the fear of boiling water. They should simply avoid utensils above the burner.

I will never buy the new Ring Always home cam when it drops in 2021. You do not want either.

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