Ring is rejecting the request of a U.S. senator to introduce privacy-enhancing changes to its flagship doorbell video camera after product testing showed the device capable of recording conversations well beyond the doorsteps of its many millions of customers. Security and privacy experts expressed alarm at the quality of the distant recordings, raising concerns about the potential for blackmail, stalking, and other forms of invasion
In a letter to the company last month, Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat of Massachusetts, said Ring was capturing “significant amounts of audio on private and public property adjacent to dwellings with Ring doorbells,” putting the right to “assemble, move, and converse without being tracked” at risk.
Markey did not asked the company to adjust the range of the device, but adjust the doorbell’s settings so audio wouldn’t be recorded by default. Ring, which was acquired by retail giant Amazon in 2018, rejected the idea, arguing that doing so would be a “negative experience” for customers, who might easily get confused by the settings “in an emergency situation.” What’s more, Ring appeared to reject a request never to link the devices to voice recognition software, offering only that it hasn’t done so thus far.
Experts such as Matthew Guariglia, a policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have said the device is particularly harmful to the privacy of individuals who live in close quarters — think apartment buildings and condos — where they may be unknowingly recorded the moment they open their doors.