Many consumers today have adopted new technologies that promise to make our lives better. From smartphones to connected devices to smart doorbells, the number of products on the market today that promise to fulfill our every wish and desire continues to grow. With WiFi now ubiquitous in most houses, we now have the ability to command our digital assistants to turn on lights, adjust climate control, and set security systems. Or if we just want to know some little piece of information, we can summon our smartphones with a single command. But all of this convenience comes with a downside that many consumers often don’t pay enough attention to.
Anything that is connected to the internet can be hacked and spied on. And it isn’t just hackers who are out to spy on us and access our personal information, it’s also the very firms that produce the products that we find so useful. Many people are now familiar with how companies such as Facebook record user conversations, how Apple contractors spied on customers, and how many common security cameras send information back to China. And now there’s new information that the popular Ring doorbells are also being used to spy on their owners.
Amazon recently fired four employees who were using Ring doorbells to spy on customers. The doorbells, promoted as a security measure that will record visitors to your front door, have been involved in helping solve numerous cases of kidnapping, theft, and other crimes. But as with any other device that is connected to the internet, Ring doorbells can potentially be hacked.
The recent case involved employees who had access to footage from the doorbells and were authorized to view that footage, presumably for customer service purposes. However, those employees overstepped their authority and went on to spy on customers. That’s a sobering reminder that anything that records video or audio in or around our homes cannot be presumed to remain private.
If you really think that these products are useful to you, be aware that your every action is likely being recorded and can eventually be overseen by someone else. If you’re okay with that, fine. Otherwise you might want to think twice about allowing these items into your home.