Before the days of internet-connected devices, the worst that could come from a ring of your doorbell was often an unexpected sales pitch, or neighborhood pranksters ringing and running. But as video doorbells become ubiquitous, a different kind of trouble could come knocking: people spying on you or hacking into your private videos.
That was the case with the home security company, Ring. The FTC says Ring’s poor privacy and lax security let employees spy on customers through their cameras, including those in their bedrooms or bathrooms, and made customers' videos, including videos of kids, vulnerable to online attackers. Hackers exploited those vulnerabilities and harassed, insulted, and propositioned children and teens through their Ring cameras. Some hackers even live streamed customers’ videos.
In a settlement, Ring agreed to establish a privacy and security program and delete the videos it shouldn’t have — in addition to paying $5.8 million to affected customers. For more on the settlement, see the FTC’s business blog.
As this case and others show, the FTC is taking action against companies that don’t protect your private information, especially sensitive biometric information, like videos and voice recordings, that are tied to who you are.
If you have video cameras at home, here’s what else to know and do.
- Check if you’ve taken these steps to secure your home security cameras. If you use an app to manage your access, review the privacy settings and permissions.
- Some states give you the right to tell companies to delete your data. Use the U.S. State Privacy Legislation Tracker to find out if your state is one of them.
- If you’re a parent, you have control over the personal information companies collect online from your kids under 13. Learn how to protect your child’s privacy online.
To learn more, check out your guide to protecting your privacy online.
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I am Really Tired of Big Business Spying on All Citizens in this Country (USA) for there own use to make more money...This is infringement of our personal rights and has been violated and the Government for The People of this country is no better than the Communists of the world...We the people that put you Congressmen and Senators in office not for you to make money for yourselves and your families but to protect the US Citizens of this country...
In reply to I am Really Tired of Big… by Mike Kaye
Mike, the article is about private citizens snooping on videos, not the government!
In reply to Mike, the article is about… by Joe Larzsto
No, this about a company allowing workers to abuse the consumers(private citizens) owned assets purchased to improve their home security. Doesn't Amazon own Ring?
I bet each child porn victim and their family got a whopping $17.34 and RING is STILL IN BUSINESS!!!
In reply to I bet each child porn victim… by billo pad
However if u r a victim then u can sue them for child endangerment and medical expenses for long term trauma.
Never accept those settlements..thy want to confuse u with wording which is the only tactic an attorney has.
Simple wording such as No. I'll see u in court and then hire the best attorney for a trial.
This won't end!! Thy need a huge spanking..just hv someone break into their system! See if it doesn't go to trial then. Thy should be exempt from ever having class action law suits. It should b escalated to a sex trafficking charge!! Nothing short of voyeurism. That's the 1st step to a child molester!
In reply to Exactly! However if u r a… by Chris
Unfortunately, proving the abuse is impossible AND precedence has been set to protect these companies.
In reply to I bet each child porn victim… by billo pad
So Ive had a ring camera for years. And there’s no claim form? I’m tired of these claims being over before I even hear about them!
Absolutely fantastic work, FTC. Thank you for all you do for us.
Thank you. That is very helpful and a warning to stay alert to this type of snooping and exploitation.
This same thing happened to me with Arlo cameras. I had them throughout the house to mitigate any potential breakins since my neighborhood was increasingly becoming more and more dangerous to live in.
The feeling that you get when you realize that your own cameras - the ones you installed to protect your family, have actually done the opposite. It was absolutely humiliating.
The hackers made themselves known by continually renaming virtual wireless networks based on the location I was at in my house and what I was doing at any given moment. You could tell they were having a good time with it. I have no idea just how long they were monitoring my son and I but when I finally started noticing, the house that I loved didn’t feel the same anymore. it made me feel ill. After removing the Arlo cameras, this group managed to embed themselves in other internet-connected devices. I was burning all of my free time just trying to figure out what was compromised vs safe.
Trying to explain such a technical issue to local authorities turned out to be a fruitless endeavor - especially during Covid. They had priorities to focus on and my issue was t one of them.
We decided that it was time for a change. I ended up moving away from a house I lived in for 14 years to protect my family’s privacy.
In reply to This same thing happened to… by G Anonymous fo…
G Anon, I completely understand your situation as I've had similar experiences. I can go on for days about these but I won't. I can only support your frustration and disappointment with companies that say that they "take your privacy and security seriously" but when it comes down to solving an issue they offer generic, out-of-date, overly basic and useless "solutions". Local authorities= forget it. They have no idea how to investigate these invasions and no forensic aptitude for this type of crime. The real crime is that Amazon, Ring, Google, Android, Microsoft etc protect their own money before they protect YOU. They all have this same protection strategy. 1. A call-in center staffed by people who don't understand your concern (language barrier, failure to listen completely, phone trees that lead you in circles, etc) This is so that you will give up and bear the burden yourself. 2. They placate you by telling you that your concern is misunderstanding the technology or your error or something that seems odd but it really isn't. 3. They pass the buck (put the issue onto someone else's back) and tell you that if what you say is correct, it is an FBI issue and not theirs. Why protect this way? Because then they'd have to admit to you or publicly that their products are fallible/faulty and not secure and this would lead to consumers returning or simply not buying their products and related services. They are in it for the money (we know that) and we like the idea of having all these cool gadgets (THEY know that), but it seems that for every dollar we spend to buy this stuff only one cent is spent by the companies to make sure that we are as secure as they claim they wish to make us. I'm glad that the FTC investigated and pursued this breach of trust and the disclosure that would have otherwise not happened. However, come on, $3.5M to Amazon is like pocket change to them.
Thanks for sharing your story and I hope that you and your family have a better situation now, but don't just drop the wrongs that were done to you. I really believe that you should escalate this if you can.
In reply to This same thing happened to… by G Anonymous fo…
I had a break in by my neighbors while living in an attached two unit duplex and the microphone and camera had been activated on my Samsung smart tv and was being spied on my neighbor who gained access through shared attic space. I lived alone and the only time I ever spoke to them was the day I moved in and said hi to them but no response. They broke In as I slept and cloned my phone and hacked into my WiFi, Bluetooth, Netflix, Facebook, email, etc and changed some of my passwords and I caught a router address or I think it’s called and IMEI (sorry, not tech savvy) address linked to my WiFi and Bluetooth. I set up my cellphone on record both audio and video and hid it as best I could in my bathroom where the attic access unsecured hatch where they were entering my home, then left for an appointment. Upon returning home, my bathroom light and fan were on and my phone was on audio only and had them recorded for an hour and 19 mins in my house unscrewing my heat lamp/light tampering with it, going through my personal affects and paperwork, bedroom as they snooped through my dresser and night stand discussing where else besides the bathroom to place cameras and listening devices. I found a big piece of flower (cannabis) on my fresh towels that I didn’t smoke nor had any visitors who used nor was it there by my cellphone in the linen closet where I hid my phone. The walls were so thin that one morning as I awoke and just pulled back the blankets, heard my neighbor say loudly! Oh look! Karla is up! The heat lamp/light in my bathroom they unscrewed on audio was damaged now and pulling away from the ceiling. It was perfectly fine prior to the break in. I couldn’t bath, use the toilet or change my clothes without being under surveillance 24/7. The phone they cloned used all of my data and pictures had been deleted. I called law enforcement but since I only had Audio they refused to investigate although I had proof I was gone at that time. I sent a text to a friend and heard my neighbor and whomever else was having fun with me reading out loud every word I had written in my text in real time. Items were moved while away and some stolen as well. They even left me a brand new bra from Victoria’s Secret on my kitchen table in my size to scare me. So the next morning I typed into my search engine the fbi website and instantly they were removing routers from their unit, equipment, computers, and other equipment I wasn’t familiar with in a panic to hide their crime. I had no idea on the fbi website that there was a warning about people hacking into smart TVs and doing exactly what they did to me and to beware as it was a rare but increasing crime by people hellbent on violating your privacy and sharing it with their cohorts and online. I had never felt more violated in all of my life. Humiliating as I showered isn’t a strong enough word for how I felt and the final straw was when I woke up and found they had stolen my wallet off of my kitchen counter as I slept, a home invasion actually according to law enforcement, I was forced to flee my home and everything I owned. So it’s not just ring cameras they use to invade your privacy it’s smart TVs and sick things like wiring up your home while away, captured on audio and they shut off the video and erased their faces upon doing so, just for kicks and to mess with you mentally. I’ve never had an issue anywhere else or ever in my life before this happened. So yeah, this stuff is real and very true and extremely sickening. I’ve recovered from the ordeal, but it took its toll on me for awhile and it was quite some time before I felt secure in another home, but I survived. It was getting more serious and concerned for my safety and knew to leave before it escalated further. I lost a lot as far as precious photos deleted from my Facebook account and to this day, I can’t log on because they changed my password. Pretty cruel. I’m sorry your privacy was violated because I know the feeling all to well. I lost it all, but saved myself in the process. Even my moms ashes. But I had to because the police didn’t want to hassle with it. So sorry you had to leave your home. No one should ever be violated in such a way. I’m happy again and loving life. I hope you are as well now. That’s the best revenge. At least you had a way to hold those accountable for their actions or at least knew who it was exactly. There’s some sick people out there. But I don’t have to live in their heads they’re stuck with for life. They’ll answer for it one day. And that brings me peace of mind.