Amazon Over Doorbell Press Senators Camera Security Concerns

Doorbell Camera

A group of Democratic U.S. Senators challenges Amazon regarding the safety of their Ring Doorbell cameras following claims that some Ukrainian workers had access to consumer home video footage.

A letter from Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and four other Democrats to Amazon Wednesday confirmed that web-based devices might raise national security concerns.

News site Intercept reported in January that Ring employees in the United States and Ukraine had access to cameras ‘ personal data worldwide. The report stated that Ring provided a number of workers and managers access to stored and sometimes live customer video files.

In addition to citing the document, the senators also noted that Ring phones regularly store video recordings and other data on Amazon servers.

“Should hackers or foreign players gain access to these information, they could not only endanger the privacy and safety of the Americans affected; they could also jeopardize U.S. national security,” the senators said. “Foreign intelligence services can use personal data to enhance espionage effects and influence operations.” The Senators asked the company to explain its practices in addressing security vulnerabilities.

Ring says the letter is checking.

The Letters are signed by Sens. Markey of Massachusetts, Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen, Delaware’s Christopher Coons, and Michigan’s Gary Peters.

The letter follows Markey’s reactions to separate privacy and civil rights questions on Tuesday.

The Amazon responded by considering adding face recognition software to its Ring Cameras, calling it a “thought-out, but not released product.” Amazon confirmed that there are no plans to integrate such a system with existing law enforcement partnerships. Amazon also allowed police to use the Ring’s Neighbors software, a site where people can post footage of suspicious activity documented by their home security cameras.

Markey was concerned that Ring could use face-to-face scanning technology after a patent application revealed that the company is testing a device that might mark people as suspicious and warn police.

Since last year, more than 600 police departments have signed up for the Ring network, and many say they are a useful tool to combat crime.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.