Acquired by Amazon in 2018 for $1 million, the home security company Ring hosts a growing number of users across the country. Despite its implicit collaboration with the police, Ring has always guaranteed its customers the freedom to determine which information, if any, are shared with law enforcement authorities. Yet, an investigation conducted by the newspaper Gizmodo revealed the location of tens of thousands of Ring cameras, exposing both flaws in the company’s data protection policy, as well as the extent of Amazon’s sprawling surveillance network.
In cities where law enforcement forces have a proven partnership with Ring, the police benefits from a specific “law enforcement” portal through the “Neighbors” feature, which gives access to the Ring camera footage of anonymous users, if they wish to share it. However, the investigation shows that, from this supposedly risk-free shared data, it is in fact possible to know the GPS coordinates associated with the videos posted on the application, and thus the address of the users to within two or three meters.