back to article No wonder cops are so keen on Ring – they can slurp your doorbell footage with few limits, US senators complain

Amazon's camera-infused doorbell biz Ring offers virtually nothing in the way of privacy or civil-rights protection for the surveillance video it collects and shares with police – according to US Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). On Tuesday, Markey said an inquiry he'd launched in September to assess Ring's corporate privacy …

  1. sysconfig

    Better not put a Ring on it then

    (the door that is)

    More seriously though, I'm not really shocked any more that privacy is trampled over. Happens everywhere all the time, sadly. But to see the scale of disregard in this case, from an Amazon-owned company no less, is a bit baffling. They are clever people. I'm assuming that someone has come to the conclusion that the free (albeit negative) coverage they get for this will be worth it.

    Things won't change until (deliberate) privacy violations become crimes, where a person (not a business) can be held accountable and ultimately end up behind bars.

    1. Imhotep

      Re: Better not put a Ring on it then

      Amazon has also been working with police departments, essentially using them as sales staff for the product.

      1. DreamEater

        Re: Better not put a Ring on it then

        Very true, I happened to see a post by beds police (I think earlier this year) offering the door bell with a significant discount.

        They played the security/think of the children line quite well. Even if it was amazons hand up their arse.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Better not put a Ring on it then

      "from an Amazon-owned company no less"

      Your comment sounds like you'd expect Amazon to be better on these issues, which I find rather amazing. Amazon's history clearly demonstrates that they would be awful on these issues.

    3. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Better not put a Ring on it then

      @sysconfig

      Are you holding out Amazon, the folks behind (in)famously snooping Alexa and the Kindle reader that tracks what you've read and what pages you lingered on for how long, as some kind of privacy champion?? Might I ask why?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: holding out

        Amazon was once my goto place for stuff. No more. They are my shop of last resort.

        As for this Ring POS... [1] not coming anywhere near my home this side of nuclear armageddon which is as good as saying never.

        and yes, I do tape over the camera on my Laptop.

        [1] The same goes for any so called 'smart' device that demands to be connected so that it can phone home. If this makes me a luddite then so be it.

        1. Tikimon Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: holding out

          "If this makes me a luddite then so be it."

          Nope, no Luddite there! instead, we are wise old bastards who are immune to hype and too experienced to be taken in by "New! Shiny! It's the future!" We've learned to read between the lines, look behind the curtain, and figure out for ourselves if it's good or not. Use of the word "smart" in a product description is a useful warning!

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: holding out

          "and yes, I do tape over the camera on my Laptop."

          A closeup of Mark Zuckerberg's laptop shows he tapes up the mic on his laptop as well. That's a bit telling in my book when the CEO of a data slurping site is making sure his tech isn't spying on him.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kindle reader that tracks what you've read

        only for those (...) who connect their kindles to amazon servers via wifi because it's "oh how convenient and quick!" and they can't be arsed to spend an extra 1 min of their life to plug a usb cable. They'd rather spend this extra 1 min of their life browsing fb (and I know - exactly - what I'm speaking about). Yes, amazon and google and fb and ms are evil, but that's ONLY because people let them.

      3. sysconfig

        Re: Better not put a Ring on it then

        @Marketing Hack

        Are you holding out Amazon,..., as some kind of privacy champion??

        Certainly not. It was not my intention to make them look like saints. You could argue that they have been less evil than some other global players, especially those in corporate America, but that debate would lead nowhere, since we only see what they've been called out on. Best to assume that they're all after our private data, the more the merrier.

  2. Woodnag

    The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

    "users get to decide whether or not to voluntarily provide their videos to the police"

    Sure they do.

    But they don't get to decide whether Amazon/Ring provides their videos to the police.

    1. Drew Scriver Bronze badge

      Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

      Absolutely. After all, they require a clear triple opt-in with unambiguous language.

      Do you agree that we may store all video, images, voice, and historical, time-stamped data of yourself, all other occupants, all visitors, and every individual who comes within the coverage area of Ring?

      Furthermore, do you agree that your local authorities may access, store indefinitely, share, and cross-reference said information?

      Lastly, do you agree that voice, posture, and gait analysis may be performed on all data to create a digital 'fingerprint' that will aid in tracking individuals through single-technology observation equipment?

      If nothing else, Amazon's transparency is laudable.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

        "Do you agree that we may store all video, images, voice, and historical, time-stamped data of yourself, all other occupants, all visitors, and every individual who comes within the coverage area of Ring?"

        It's legal to give consent on behalf of 3rd parties, both known and unknown? Wow!

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

        Do you agree that we may store all video, images, voice, and historical, time-stamped data of yourself, all other occupants, all visitors, and every individual who comes within the coverage area of Ring?

        How is that even legal? The owner of the camera cannot agree for visitors or strangers who may just happen to cross the path of the camera, they would have to get a waiver from everybody who goes in front of the camera, before that would be legal.

        Over here, if the Ring (or any other camera) can see the street or pavement in front of the property (or can see into a neighbours property), it is illegally mounted and it must be so adjusted that it cannot under any circumstances film anything that is not on the owner's property. I believe you also have to have a warning sign at the entrance to the property that video surveillance is carried out on the property.

        Even at work it is very difficult. We have cameras for security and loading purposes scattered around the building - so that people in dangerous areas can be monitored, in case there is an accident, or so that the operators can see if an HGV turns up for loading, so the gate can be opened - but the camera for the outside of the gate has to be carefully placed, so that it shows the part of the property before the gate, but does not show pedestrians on the footpath or vehicles on the road. Likewise, the data protection officer had to get a signed document put into the compliance documentation, stating that none of the videos will be recorded, or where recording is made, E.g. high danger areas, that if there is no industrial evidence, that the video will be deleted within 24 hours and that the videos will only be stored locally.

        Videoüberwachung verletzt Persönlichkeitsrechte

        Sein Sondereigentum, den eigenen Garten oder die Innenräume darf ein Wohnungseigentümer überwachen. Anders sieht es aus, wenn Treppenhaus, Hauseingang, Aufzug, der Weg zum Haus oder Stellplatz von Überwachungskameras gefilmt werden.

        Worse than I thought, you can't monitor the house entrance, the hallway in a block of flats or the driveway.

        https://www.haus.de/geld-recht/nachbarrecht-ueberwachungskameras-wann-sind-sie-erlaubt

        There are some exceptions, but it is very strict.

        1. Test Man

          Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

          "Over here, if the Ring (or any other camera) can see the street or pavement in front of the property (or can see into a neighbours property), it is illegally mounted and it must be so adjusted that it cannot under any circumstances film anything that is not on the owner's property. I believe you also have to have a warning sign at the entrance to the property that video surveillance is carried out on the property."

          I think it isn't actually illegal i.e. there isn't any specific laws that prohibit this directly. However, there are laws that can be used to prosecute someone who do end up filming neighbours' properties or the public highway in such a way that it could be considered invading privacy. In other words, you leave yourself open to it by doing so (positioning cameras to film public highway or neighbours' properties) but actually doing it doesn't immediately break any laws.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

            One of our neighbours was having problems with another neighbour and they put up a dummy video camera in the garden.

            The police were round within a day and they had to remove/reposition the dummy.

          2. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

            "I think it isn't actually illegal" - correct in strict terms only, the mounting of the camera is not illegal, but any images it captures fall under other laws.

            From gov.uk: If your CCTV system captures images of people outside the boundary of your private domestic property – for example, from neighbours’ homes or gardens, shared spaces, or from public areas – then the GDPR and the DPA will apply to you.

            1. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

              Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

              "public areas"

              Err, so how can we be allowed to use our phone cameras in the street... but our fixed camera must not point at the street?

              I guess I just need to conceal my home cameras....

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

          "Over here, if the Ring (or any other camera) can see the street or pavement in front of the property (or can see into a neighbours property), it is illegally mounted and it must be so adjusted that it cannot under any circumstances film anything that is not on the owner's property."

          Are dashcams illegal? If not, the answer to complete video surveillance of your property (and adjacent areas, where the perps come from) is rather obvious :-)

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

            Technically, yes. You cannot record numberplates, faces or anything else that could identify the persons in front of the camera, unless you have permission.

            You can use a dashcam, but you can't use continuous recording (as in hours of footage), just the short time before an accident - I think 30 seconds. If the camera is recording, it can record a maximum of 30 seconds or so, before it has to overwrite the video, you can then use the override switch in the case of an accident to keep it rolling and recording.

            You can share accident footage with the police, now, that didn't used to be the case. It is still a grey area, whether you can share it with the insurance company. But posting it online, when the vehicles and people on the video are identifiable is illegal.

            The YouTube channel from Sasch LKW Fahrnünftig is a good example of what is allowed, here a link to his latest video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGj6Q3Y7_PA

            As you can see, the numberplates, faces and company logos are generally blurred out.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

              So what happens if a tourist walks/bikes/motors down the high street with a so-called "smart" phone, taking video of their holiday?

              More to the point, what happens to all the kids walking home from school, taking videos of whatever catches their fancy?

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

                As long as they don't post it online, no problem. Or as long as they obscure people and vehicles or get a waiver from anybody they accidentally film, they can post it online.

              2. Is It Me Bronze badge

                Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

                If you are somewhere with no exception of privacy you can be photographed or recorded with out your permission. This is why street photography of and dashcams etc. are legal.

                If you are then storing or publishing the images/video then you start to look at GDPR type issues if there is personally identifiable information in them.

            2. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

              If the camera is recording, it can record a maximum of 30 seconds or so, before it has to overwrite the video, you can then use the override switch in the case of an accident to keep it rolling and recording.

              Yeah, my first thought after an accident would be to hit the dashcam override rather than check for fractures or serious bleeding before hauling myself out of the overturned car ready to help the other occupants get free.

              1. Grooke

                Re: The un-named PR gave half an answer of course

                That's why a lot of models feature accelerometers and keep recording when they detect a collision.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Are dashcams illegal?

            interestingly enough, they're illegal in Austria, or so I heard.

            ...

            oops, quite a list...

            which.co.uk/news/2018/08/using-your-dash-cam-abroad-what-you-need-to-know-about-driving-in-europe/

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But what about just plain crap?

          No - until earlier this year in the UK it was necessary to register with the ICO as a data controller if you wanted your cameras to cover outside your own property. It cost somewhere in the region of £20/year. There were no real restrictions - definitely no signage required. You did have to agree to honour any requests for footage from anyone caught on camera. In the couple of years I was registered, I didn't get any requests.

          I got a letter earlier this year, I think, from the ICO saying residential home owners no longer needed to register - so it's now essentially unregulated.

  3. chivo243 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Jump to the not to distant future

    Plod walks down the street, looks up doesn't see Ring on the house, thinks "what's this all about, they don't have a ring? Must have something to hide!"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jump to the not to distant future

      Plod walks down the street

      You must live in a parallel universe. The Plod around here don't walk anywhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Plod around here don't walk anywhere.

        well, then a "plod drone" passes by - every month or so (cause they're expensive, you know, we can't have them "everywhere", they're only used for solving serious crimes... ;)

      2. Dr. G. Freeman

        Re: Jump to the not to distant future

        They walk past my flat all the time as there's the coffee shop downstairs, must be one of the safest places in Aberdeen with all the visits.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Jump to the not to distant future

        "You must live in a parallel universe. The Plod around here don't walk anywhere."

        It's an admittedly rare occurrence, but I saw a pair today, "on the beat" at about 6:30pm in the cold, rainy dark of mid November. It's slightly less unusual on a warm summers day.

    2. Jimboom

      Re: Jump to the not to distant future

      "Plod drives down the street, 360 roof mounted camera (mainly used for facial recognition of course) doesn't see Ring on the house, immediately adds you to database for further monitoring"

      FIFY

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Jump to the not to distant future

        Are they in a marked or unmarked car?

        1. gypsythief

          Marked...

          ...it clearly says "Google Street View" on the side.

  4. Andy Non Silver badge

    A touch of irony

    A house near me recently had their Ring doorbell/camera stolen. Also there was no footage of the criminal who nicked it. Couldn't help smiling to myself.

    I wonder if there is an emerging black market in these things or are they somehow coded to only work on a particular property?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A touch of irony

      Or it's just necessary preparation for the forthcoming burglary.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: A touch of irony

        Doubtful. The doorbells are easy to avoid if your intention is burglary. As the burgled doorbell proves.

        1. adam 40 Bronze badge

          Re: A touch of irony

          If your intention is burglary, then you _WANT_ the ring device on there.

          Here's how it works:

          Perp turns up at house with hoodie and mask covering face and hangs around.

          Ring device: "can I help you???" (in sarcastic voice, for it is the homeowner on holiday)

          Perp pulls out clipboard "can you sign for this parcel?"

          Ring: "no I can't"

          Perp then knows owner is out, so it's safe to go a-burgling.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: A touch of irony

        "Or it's just necessary preparation for the forthcoming burglary."

        Except there is no video of the theft, suggesting the thief knows how to deactivate the thing. If so, why bother stealing it? Just deactivate it and have at the silver and the single malt collection.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: A touch of irony

          At worst, all you'd need to do is hide in some bushes or something and use a moderately powerful laser to blind the camera while you approach it to spray paint over the lens or bash the thing with a rock.

          Or use more than a moderately powerful laser so the laser itself will permanently damage the camera.

  5. JohnFen Silver badge

    Infuriating

    "Ring provided this statement to The Register via email [...]"

    Ring's statement here really made my blood boil. It completely ignores the fundamental and serious privacy problems with Ring -- which is the surveillance of innocent others by the devices. Talking about how users have control over the videos (even if true) is entirely beside the point. The point is that these things are a threat to the non-Ring people.

    At least those damned things have a light, so I can tell from a reasonable distance which neighborhoods are too dangerous to be in.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Infuriating

      Yes, that wouldn't fly over here. You cannot set the camera up in a way that it can see anything outside your property (making it totally pointless, if your front door opens directly onto the street, and you have to have surveillance warning signs at the entrance to the property.

      Videoüberwachung verletzt Persönlichkeitsrechte

      Sein Sondereigentum, den eigenen Garten oder die Innenräume darf ein Wohnungseigentümer überwachen. Anders sieht es aus, wenn Treppenhaus, Hauseingang, Aufzug, der Weg zum Haus oder Stellplatz von Überwachungskameras gefilmt werden.

      Worse than I thought, you can't monitor the house entrance, the hallway in a block of flats or the driveway.

      https://www.haus.de/geld-recht/nachbarrecht-ueberwachungskameras-wann-sind-sie-erlaubt

      1. PerlyKing Silver badge

        Re: Infuriating

        Meanwhile in the UK the Information Commissioner's Office has recently dropped the requirement to register with them, put up signs and pay an annual fee if your CCTV covers the world outside your property, and the police are encouraging people to set up their CCTV at head height to have the best chance of getting recognisable mug shots of suspects members of the public.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ring's statement here really made my blood boil

      I'm really baffled when people sound upset at such non-statements, after all, they're not out there to do anything, like provide a meaningful reply, or clarification, they're out there, because somebody was appointed by a business to produce these farts, as vague and stink-free, as not to draw more attention, but at the same time, to prove they do "care" and "provide feedback". It's a choreographed dance, media make a move (ask a question), business makes a move in response (provide a non-answer) - and the dance continues. Same as howareyouImfinethankyouverymuchandhowareyou.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Ring's statement here really made my blood boil

        It upsets me because it's both insulting and deceptive. If you're going to engage in awful behavior, at the very least, don't spit in my face when you're doing it.

  6. Garymrrsn
    Big Brother

    I can see headlines with mug shots

    "Ring has no oversight/compliance mechanisms in place to ensure that users don’t collect footage of children"

    So your not old enough to be modest rug rats can get you, and/or your neighbours, busted big time.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I can see headlines with mug shots

      "Ring has no oversight/compliance mechanisms in place to ensure that users don’t collect footage of children"

      One of the stupidest things in the list. I don't see any issue with footage of kids on CCTV. While I don't like the filth being able to access Ring footage any time they like for whatever they want, if there were a case of a child gone missing, it could be useful if there were footage of them. If some sort of AI were continuously deleting footage of anybody that looked under 18, it would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  7. ma1010 Silver badge

    Here we go again

    As soon as I saw the bit "...take that responsibility very seriously," I quit reading their statement because I bloody KNEW it was a lie.

    Any time a corporate talks about how seriously they take your safety/security/privacy/whatever, it's a red flashing light that the statement is total bollocks.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Here we go again

      Indeed. Remember The West Midlands Serious Crime Squad?

      And of course, who can forget The Serious Crime Act ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here we go again

      oh, I'm absolutely sure they take this seriously, in the sense that it's not something that happened "in error", like that rogue google engineer scooping wifi passwords while driving past people's homes, just because he's got this case of wifipasswordophilia. No, they take privacy VERY seriously indeed :(

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    Is it me

    Or is Amazon doing its best to make Google look like our cuddly friend by comparison these days?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it me

      they're not doing their best to make Google look like our cuddly friend by comparison, they're doing their best to get ahead of them in that old business game of getting ahead of your business rivals. And they - sadly absolutely correctly - know that surveillance is great business and, to quote, ... and cousin, business is a-boomin'

      p.s from the beeb, yesterday (title says it all)

      Amazon gets closer to getting Alexa everywhere

      bbc.co.uk/news/technology-50392077

  9. Wellyboot Silver badge

    GDPR & DPA anyone?

    Section 3.6 is the one that'll get operators of these nailed in the UK.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/domestic-cctv-using-cctv-systems-on-your-property/domestic-cctv-using-cctv-systems-on-your-property

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: GDPR & DPA anyone?

      As always, they're hoping huge initial sales which are too big to be ignored and the police pushing it (who are always the first to feign ignorance about data protection) will get the law changed.

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: GDPR & DPA anyone?

        Or they will quietly release a statement to the tune of "but it isn't a CCTV system". Which is conveniently how it is being marketed in the UK, as an "alternative door peephole".

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: GDPR & DPA anyone?

          "... with a 24x7 camera behind it connected to the Internet and uploading everything."

  10. Donn Bly

    Expectation of Privacy

    I am all for personal privacy, but US Senator Edward Markey seems to be a bit ignorant of the law.

    None of the following should be construed that I support Amazon and Ring in this. I don't want to live in a surveillance state. However, the way the law is currently written Ring is doing nothing wrong with selling door cameras and encouraging the buyers to provide the video to the police. The first step to solve this is CHANGE THE LAWS.

    People on both sides of this issue need to realize is that in the United States there is NO expectation of privacy when you are on a public right of way, or within view of the public right of way. A photographer has the legal right to photograph you, your children, your property, or anything else they can see with the naked eye if they are on the road or sidewalk. The photographer does not need your permission, nor do you have the legal right to prohibit them from doing so. There are legal rights if the pictures taken are used in commerce, but the photographer still has the right to sell the photograph, or give the photograph away for free to others.

    Additionally, a property owner has the right to photograph anything that he can see from his property with the naked eye. There is no expectation of privacy from your neighbors when you are in your back yard if you can be seen from their property. It is completely legal for them to photograph you from their windows, door, or standing in their yard.

    A video is just a series of photographs and is similarly covered -- however any accompanying audio is not. Unless you live in a single-party consent state it can be illegal to take a video with audio of your friends in a public place when it would not be illegal to take a photo or a video that was muted.

    What this means is that a homeowner has the legal right to put a camera on their door and record anything going on in front of their house, on the street, their neighbors yard, etc.-- AND they have the right to share that video (but not audio in some states) with whomever they feel. There is no expectation of privacy, therefore there is no violation of privacy.

    If Ring sets up a portal and lets users share video with their neighbors or police, and they put into the terms of service of the portal that the video shared becomes public domain, then there isn't CURRENTLY anything anyone can do about it. As public domain video, the police can do whatever they want with it, including store it forever or use it for facial recognition.

    If Ring gave video to the cops that the users didn't voluntarily share, then that is a separate problem -- but that doesn't appear to be the case here. In these cases the users had already voluntarily chosen to share the video under conditions where they lost control of it.

    As far as Markey's statements, lets examine them.

    1) Ring has no security requirements for law enforcement offices... And why should they if the video is public domain?

    2) Ring has no restrictions on law enforcement sharing... again, why should they if the video is public domain?

    3) Right has no policies that prohibit law enforcement from keeping shared video... again, public domain. Besides, the video was never Ring's property to restrict.

    4) Ring has no evidentiary standards for law enforcement... Not Ring's problem. The users have decided to share THEIR video, it isn't up to Ring or Markey to establish standards.

    5) Ring refused to commit to not selling users' biometric data... THIS can be a problem, depending on how it is phrased. However, with the definition of biometric having been expanded to include any photograph clear enough to recognize the person I can understand why they wouldn't. Has your local newspaper photographer committed to refusing to sell biometric data? The newspaper is selling biometric data every time they print a picture of someone and then sell the paper. The photographer is selling biometric data every time they sell a clear photo of a person to the paper. Pass legislation to fix the definition of biometric data (again, Markey's job) then then

    6) Ring has no oversight/compliance mechanisms in place to ensure that users don't collect footage from beyond their property... but people are ALLOWED to collect footage from beyond their property. I could see them putting restrictions in place to not point and zoom one of these cameras on a neighbors bedroom or bathroom window -- but if the footage of these cameras is being shared with the police I think that if someone did so then the local cops would be knocking on their door. It would seem to be a self-resolving problem.

    7) Ring has no oversight/compliance mechanisms in place to ensure that users don't collect footage of children.... Again, if these children are in a public place there is no expectation of privacy. It is perfectly LEGAL for you to take video of the kids riding their bikes down the street or vandalizing you or neighbor's house.

    8) Ring has no compliance mechanisms in place to prohibit law enforcement from requesting and obtaining footage that does not comply with Ring's terms of service... And if they did they would be illegally obstructing justice. In fact, if you or they delete footage that police have requested, you have opened yourself up for liability in the form of a charge of "spoliation of evidence".

    In summary, if Ring is following the letter of law and Markey doesn't like it, then Markey should DO HIS JOB and change the law. To go after Ring without first changing the law does nothing more than create a circus, and Markey becomes the clown.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Expectation of Privacy

      "People on both sides of this issue need to realize is that in the United States there is NO expectation of privacy when you are on a public right of way, or within view of the public right of way."

      This is not really true. It's true that you have a dramatically reduced amount of legally protected privacy in public, but you do have some.

      As one example, anyone can take your picture in public, but unless you're a "public figure", they generally can't publish that picture without your permission.

      1. Donn Bly

        Re: Expectation of Privacy

        The picture can be published without your permission, but cannot be used in advertising without your permission. That was covered with the line "There are legal rights if the pictures taken are used in commerce" in the third paragraph.

        The newspaper does not need your permission to publish your picture in the paper. Your neighbor does not need your permission to post your picture on his blog. You do not need to seek permission from a driver whose erratic driving you captured on your dash cam before publishing it.

        You DO need permission in order to imply endorsement, but not for publishing.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Expectation of Privacy

      For the owner of any recording device to make their recordings "Public Domain", they have to explictly publicize that they are giving up their implied Copyright to the material and must describe that material in a detailed manner. Your Copyright cannot be given away by implied consent or through a "Terms of Service"/"Privacy Policy" document. It has to be done with a specifically written Copyright assignment and signed. The only exception might be through donating photos, moving pictures, artwork, audio recordings to the Library of Congress or other national archive with only a very broad description of the works being donated rather that itemized documentation.

      I was thinking about the audio issue. Many states require that both parties being recorded consent to the audio recording so dashcam recordings can lead to trouble. Photos, no problem in public.

      In the US, there can be an issue if there is an expectation of privacy. If you photograph somebody on the other side of a solid fence through using a ladder, climbing the fence or using a drone to circumvent not being able to photograph them, it can be an offense. The same could apply to photographing a neighbor by placing a camera elevated on your property where it looks over a fence onto the neighbor's property or into a window that wouldn't normally be seen through from ground level.

      Best defense, don't self-install surveillance gear.

    3. Reginald Onway

      Re: Expectation of Privacy: That's a Consituional Right in the USA

      These "no expectation of privacy" rants and manifestos are all over the internet in regards RING. I assume it's organized. Many sound like the same PR hack writing them.

      Here's the truth: In America, the citizenry DOES have a Constitutional right to Privacy as confirmed by the Supreme Court at various times in various ways. Note there are even several federal privacy laws and even a fourth amendment regarding search and seizure.

      In short, you DO have the right to be let alone from GOVERNMENT intrusion.No one can take that away from you. It cannot be waived by someone else checking a box. Even, a Ring cam.

      YES, YOU DO have a right to privacy!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Expectation of Privacy: That's a Consituional Right in the USA

        "YES, YOU DO have a right to privacy!"

        However, here in the US you do NOT have the right to not be photographed by anybody with a camera when you are in a public space. Which is kind of what we are discussing at the moment.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nextdoor

    I recently moved into a new neighborhood and soon after filling out an official change of address form I received an unusual letter claiming top be from one of my new neighbors inviting me to join some kind of online neighborhood communinty called NextDoor.

    It was addressed to: "our neighbor at [my new residence address] From: "Your neighbor from [redacted]"

    My address was complete by the From address just named the cross street nearest mine without a specific address.

    What really caught my attention was that the web address my new "friend" wanted me to check out ended with a forward slash and a string of letters and numbers.

    My belief is that string of characters is a unique identifier and had I viewed the web address in the letter even just out of curiosity this unique identifier could be used to tie my physical address to my IP address and web browser fingerprint.

    Running a WHOIS on the web address showed that it was hosted on an Amazon server.

    Doing a quick DDG search brought me to this article from MalwareBytes:

    https://blog.malwarebytes.com/privacy-2/2019/08/nextdoor-neighborhood-app-sends-letters-on-its-users-behalf/

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Nextdoor

      Overly paranoid there, I think. Nextdoor.com is super handy as a hyper-local forum for staying in touch with neighbors; on ours, the local sheriffs' dept posts regular updates and it's great for getting the word out about missing pets, etc (and as a less dodgy alternative to Craigslist for getting rid of unwanted stuff.)

      I don't get anything in the way of junk (e)mail that I can attribute to Nextdoor, so my opinion of it is pretty positive.

      You'd have received that postcard because one of your neighbors requested it be sent to you - the remorseless logic of the network effect is that the more people are on the neighborhood's forum, the more useful it is to everyone.

      Wasn't me that downvoted you, btw.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Nextdoor

        I visit my neighbors face to face. Being neighbors, they live quite close to me. No need for a computer, or even a telephone. Whodathunkit?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nextdoor

        I was on Nextdoor for a while. It's like an electronic HOA. There are moderators that let their friends do whatever they want. So the forums are full of off-topic crap and if you report that the off-topic posts the posts will only get removed if the person that posted it isn't a friend of a moderator.

        1. vaporland

          Re: Nextdoor - I'm a former user

          a guy posted a request on our local nextdoor looking for someone ("ideal job for a youngster") to walk his Dogo Argentino. they are extremely powerful and dangerous.

          when i private-messaged him that perhaps having a kid walking his dog was irresponsible, he sent a threatening reply and told me to mind my own business.

          i deleted my account that day. aaaand bought a glock.

          just in case.

      3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Nextdoor

        I agree that it is super handy but it is strange that the email account that I used to sign up to it which I created just for this purpose suddenly got hacked and started sending hundreds of spam messages a day.

        In the end, I created a new email addy, changed the account used by nextdoor and deleted the old addy. No more spamming suposedly coming from my account.

      4. Kane Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Nextdoor

        "I don't get anything in the way of junk (e)mail that I can attribute to Nextdoor, so my opinion of it is pretty positive."

        And that's how they get you.

      5. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Nextdoor

        It's marketing gold dust which can be sold to the highest bidder. Nextdoor get an email address tied to a real-life identity and location in exchange for setting up a bunch of forums and allowing people to criticise non-Nextdoor members behind their backs.

      6. Mike 16 Silver badge

        Hyper Local?

        Around here (small town with rural on two sides), "local" seems to be interpreted as "shares one zip-code (Postal code)", which means coyotes and bobcats living 10 miles away could be counted as my neighbors (if they had a mailbox and some disposable income).

      7. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Nextdoor

        "You'd have received that postcard because one of your neighbors requested it be sent to you"

        That would really alienate me from my neighbors. Nobody should be volunteering me to receive spam.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Nextdoor

          At least the postcard isn't sent postage-due, unlike spam in the online world.

          I'd still try to convince my other neighbors to join me in ostracising the asshole, though.

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Ring

    They can kiss mine, I'm not buying it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "alarming disregard" for citizens' privacy and data protection

    well, if the fuckwits who use this kit don't care, why should the rest of us? Until it becomes mandatory...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "alarming disregard" for citizens' privacy and data protection

      ok, I get it, the fuckwits don't care because it's not THEIR privacy but those that happen to be nearby. Well, then we SHOULD care! ;)

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: "alarming disregard" for citizens' privacy and data protection

      "well, if the fuckwits who use this kit don't care, why should the rest of us? Until it becomes mandatory..."

      You should care in the same way when you have a fuckwit sister who just adores FB and posts photos of you from family gatherings and identifies you in the photos helping build the recognition database that FB sells on to others.

  14. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Happy

    At First I Was Afraid, I Was Petrified...

    Then I saw the spokesthing's response,

    Ring users place their trust in us to help protect their homes and communities, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

    and I sank back with a sigh of relief. That clears everything then.

  15. Cuddles Silver badge

    Ring provided this statement to The Register

    "Ring users place their trust in us"

    "...hahaha, suckers!", they added.

  16. vaporland

    so YOU really are the product....

    ... even when the service is NOT free.

  17. Reginald Onway

    Trust? Ha! Ha!

    First mistake:

    "Ring users place their trust in us..."

    Second mistake:

    Giving "them" money.

    Third mistake:

    Born stupid.

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