Amazon-owned Ring is facing a class action lawsuit after dozens of Ring smart cameras were hacked, and the owners subjected to threats, harassment, racial slurs, and blackmail.
The lawsuit is the culmination of a slew of separate cases filed over the last few years, which allege that Ring devices in their homes were hacked leading to harassment, and the Ring “blamed the victims, and offered inadequate responses and spurious explanations”, while not taking the necessary steps to update its security measures.
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Each time I've watched this video it's given me chills. A Desoto County mother shared this Ring video with me. Four days after the camera was installed in her daughters' room she says someone hacked the camera & began talking to her 8-year-old daughter.More at 6 on #WMC5 pic.twitter.com/77xCekCnB0December 10, 2019
Examples of hacked devices include the video above, in which an eight-year-old girl was told the man who had hacked the device was Santa, and that he wanted to be 'best friends'.
Another case alleges that a woman in an assisted living centre was sexually harassed via the hacked Ring camera, and told “tonight you die”.
Incidents involve the hackers speaking to the victims, commenting on their activities, making death threats, racial slurs, and sexually harassing them. It's a harrowing tale and Ring is being accused of sloppy security measures that have allowed this to happen, and not taking sufficient action after they were reported, as outlined in the lawsuit:
"[Ring] has not sufficiently improved its security practices or responded adequately to the ongoing threats its products pose to its customers."
It also claims that Ring put the onus on the victims for not having strong enough passwords, but the company is facing criticism for not employing basic methods, like making users create strong passwords, and not utilising two-factor authentication.
The case has added fuel to the opposition of such devices, which is hard to argue against when it just takes one security breach for strangers to have access to the cameras in your home. Ring in particular has come under scrutiny for its collaboration with the police.
Evan Greer, deputy director of privacy advocacy group Fight for the Future, says:
"Ring’s surveillance-based business model is fundamentally incompatible with civil rights and democracy.
"These devices, and the thinking behind them, should be melted down and never spoken of again."
Of course, there are benefits to these devices, but as with any form of surveillance, there is a line between safety and breaching people's rights. And when it comes to personal home security, the lines are even more blurred, with guests feeling uncomfortable that they're being recorded, or perhaps not even being made aware that this is happening.
Either way, Ring is in hot water right now. If you have your own home security setup, we advise that you change passwords regularly, and look into any additional measures to beef up your password protection.
Source: The Guardian