Amazon’s New Ring Always Home Cam, a flying camera that will be launched in 2021, has already met with a lot of criticism over privacy globally. Indian consumers too are sceptical about the product and believe it normalises surveillance technologies.
“The reasons we should be wary about such surveillance technology in the house are: the possibility of it being shared with law enforcement agencies, or let them or third parties have continuous access to a person’s extremely sensitive personal information,” Shweta Mohandas, policy officer, Centre for Internet and Society, told The Electronics.
Let’s first get to know the product better.
The device is a lightweight and compact sensory autonomous flying indoor security camera. It will surveil the user’s house and stream the footage to their phones to help them see it live or the recorded video from the Ring’s cloud. This indoor drone is built to be loud, which Amazon referred to as “privacy you can hear”.
The camera only switches on when the drone is flying and remains physically blocked when it is docked into the base. When not flying, the drone remains docked in a white base, which also recharges it. Additionally, the device has an obstacle detection technology to fly along the predetermined paths, without colliding into any objects.
“Always Home Cam was built with privacy top of mind both in the physical design and the way it is used,” read a blogpost by Ring founder and CEO Jamie Siminoff.
But people in India who have already spent recent years either worrying about or struggling with or fighting against data privacy matters like Aadhaar and Arogya Setu, are unsure about the safety this device offers.
“Hackers can get to know about my entire house and this way the recorded clips can also be accessed by criminals. Even if an alarm is sent over my phone, by the time I can even reach out for help, I can be robbed or worse,” said Saurabh Kumar, a 27-year-old software engineer.
People also took to Twitter to raise concerns over the security and privacy issues concerning the device.
This is when the Personal Data Protection Bill, which proposes to restrict the use of personal data with citizens’ consent, has been in the pipeline for more than a year. The Bill may be tabled in Parliament this Budget session.
Leila Rouhi, president of Ring, also addressed privacy concerns in a blogpost recently. “Later this year, Ring will be one of the first in the smart home security space to offer end-to-end encryption to our customers,” Rouhi wrote.
Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hasn’t yet authorised the sale of this device, let’s hope it comes with a solution to people’s concerns.