Fraud Friday: Protecting your biometric information from companies like Ring

Oct 13, 2023 | General News

Video doorbells, such as those sold by the home security company Ring, have become ubiquitous, and unfortunately, alongside the safety they afford comes a different kind of trouble: folks spying on you or hacking into your private footage.

In a settlement resulting from a case brought against them by the FTC, Ring agreed to establish a privacy and security program and delete videos that they shouldn’t have kept— in addition to paying $5.8 million to affected customers. That’s because 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.

It’s good to see the FTC taking action against companies that don’t protect our private information, especially sensitive, identity-revealing biometrics like videos and voice recordings.

However, many companies are still trying to take advantage of customers’ sensitive information, so if you use internet-connected home security cameras, take these 3 steps to secure your information and privacy.

1. If you use an app to manage your access, review the privacy settings and permissions.

2. Some states give you the right to tell companies to delete your data. Legislation in Iowa has been passed to give consumers this right, but it won’t take effect until 2025.

3. If you’re a parent, you have control over the personal information companies collect online from your children under the age of 13. Learn how to protect your child’s privacy online with these tips from the FTC: