‘In a letter to U.S. senators, tech behemoth Amazon admits that it has fired employees discovered to have been spying on customers using the company’s Ring cameras.
Although the Ring cameras were originally marketed as a way to see who’s standing outside the door before opening it, many users have installed the surveillance equipment inside the house.
Ring’s eight-page letter was a response to inquiries made by five U.S. senators regarding the company’s security policies and findings of the company’s internal audits. In November 2019 Senators Ron Wyden, Chris Van Hollen, Edward J. Markey, Christopher A. Coons, and Gary C. Peters co-signed the letter looking for answers to questions about stories of privacy breaches being reported in the media.
The letter to legislators, signed by Amazon Vice President of Public Policy Brian Huseman, explains that Ring received four complaints of its employees viewing of Ring data “that exceeded what was necessary for their job functions.” Huseman reports in the letter that “after determining that the individual violated company policy, the individual was terminated.”
It is unclear whether Huseman means that one individual in each of the four complaints was fired, or whether the abuse of access to data reported to Ring resulted in the termination of only one of the employees investigated by Ring.
Regardless, use of the Ring cameras is rapidly increasing. In my neighborhood, three of my four closest neighbors have a Ring doorbell camera installed at their front door. Of course, the survey of my neighbors’ use of the Amazon surveillance device is not evidence of its wider use, but it is evidence of just how farseeing is the sight of a company that has admitted its employees secretly spy on customers.
Just how many Americans have bought Amazon’s Ring cameras is not known, and in the letter to the senators, Huseman refuses to disclose the number, revealing only that “millions of customers have purchased a Ring device.”
It strains the imagination to think that of all the millions of feeds of live video unauthorized access has only happened four times. Nevertheless, Amazon is to be commended for its efforts to stop serious infringements on the privacy of people using its products.’