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Amazon engineer goes public with criticism of the Ring doorbell security system

In a blog post, Max Eliaser claims Ring violates users’ privacy

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Photo (c) SinArtCreative - Getty Images
You’ve probably seen the TV commercials for the Ring doorbell security system, which allows a homeowner to monitor who’s at the front door from any remote location.

A software engineer who works for Amazon has taken the step of publicly condemning the product, claiming the way it gathers and archives video is “not compatible with a free society.” In a post on Medium, engineer Max Eliaser said the Ring system should be shut down immediately.

Amazon did not respond to media requests for comment. The company has a policy that limits employees from speaking out on company issues and policies, but Eliaser spoke out anyway.

"The deployment of connected home security cameras that allow footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society," Eliaser wrote in the post. "The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation and there is no balance that can be struck. Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back."

Data breach

Eliaser’s protest does not appear to be directly tied to last month’s data breach involving about 3,000 Ring customers. Some customers had their log-in information, names, emails, passwords, time zones, and camera locations exposed. Hackers who gained access to the information could potentially use it to take over the devices and view video history. 

In an email to customers, the company explained that the information was most likely leaked because of credentials that were stolen in separate data breaches.

Amazon purchased Ring in 2018. In the past, the company has faced scrutiny over privacy issues, mostly around its agreements with law-enforcement agencies and problems with hackers accessing the devices.

Eliaser’s post was accompanied by dozens of other anti-Amazon comments from employees who identified themselves as climate activists and expressed opposition to some of Amazon’s corporate policies.

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