Ring Doorbells: Invasion of Privacy or Worthwhile?

If you do not know, the Amazon Ring Doorbell is one of the new, popular ways that people are expanding security measures on their household. According to the Ring Doorbell official website, they state in their product description that “All Ring Video Doorbells send notifications to your phone, tablet and PC when anyone presses your doorbell or triggers the built-in motion sensors. When you answer the notification, you can see, hear and speak to visitors from anywhere”. As well, the Ring Doorbell has a security camera installed that incorporates a live stream that is recorded and saved to one’s phone and/or tablet. Max Read on the Intelligencer describes the doorbell as so, “as a camera, the Peephole Cam, like other Rings, is boringly straightforward. There’s a doorbell button on it that, when pressed, sends an alert to your phone, and it has a small speaker which can function as an intercom. You’ll also get an alert whenever the camera senses activity, allowing you to see what’s moving outside the door; by default, the camera records 30 seconds of video whenever its motion sensors are tripped. It’s also very easy to install. You unscrew your apartment-door peephole, screw in the Ring hardware, snap in the rechargeable batteries, and download the app.” The purpose of this device is ultimately to reduce petty crime, especially in neighborhood areas. The doorbell would capture any being that was at your door step, and there would be physical, visual evidence to provide to authorities. Although, isn’t there a point where this crosses the line between security to invasion of privacy? There have been several instances where the owner of the doorbell does not set it up so only their property can be seen, but rather, the street and their neighbors houses can be seen too. Lets say you live on a particularly narrow street where the houses are close together and your neighbor has placed their doorbell in the position I stated before and you keep your blinds open on your windows, the ring doorbell will have recorded everything you are doing in that area of your house. And furthermore, your neighbor now has the recorded files and can do whatever they want with them, and so do the manufacturers of the ring doorbell. Although there is more to this. These recordings then can be translated to another application called Neighbors where everyone in the neighborhood who has the app can share something they saw in their video for everyone else to see. You do NOT need a ring doorbell to see your neighborhood’s feed – or even better yet, what ever address’ feed you want to look at. Now lets go back to the scenario I presented earlier – your neighbor posted a video on the neighborhood feed where you can clearly see yourself in your own residence in the background. Someone who lives hours away decided to look into your neighborhoods feeds, and now that person know where you live. In conclusion, is the ring door bell truly a good way to reduce crimes in residential areas, or does it is violate privacy more than serve the intended purpose?

5 thoughts on “Ring Doorbells: Invasion of Privacy or Worthwhile?

  1. This aspect of the Ring Doorbell is one that I never thought of. This is definitely something to consider for people looking into one of these devices for obvious reasons. Although, this post did make me ponder one question. Do you think this potential small risk is worth all the potential good that the Ring Doorbell can do? When I say small risk, I am not saying that invasion of privacy should be taken lightly, but more so we should consider how many people will actually use this technology maliciously (which is probably a very minute number), as well as the actual quality of the video and if you can really see what neighbors are doing. I believe that this technology has a much higher ceiling for good than bad, and that the pros outweigh the potential cons. I think a good way to research this is to try and find footage of Ring Doorbells online, and inspect the video quality to see if it really could be an invasion of privacy, or if neighbors are just blurry background images.

  2. I think that the basic idea behind the Ring Doorbell is great for security reasons, but there are definitely some flaws that lead to a breech of privacy.

    My neighborhood at home has had many issues with front door and mailbox theft, so something like this Ring Doorbell would be nice to have to help catch whoever it is that is committing these crimes. We have had some neighbors try to set up cameras in trees but they usually are too far away or do not work properly, so this would be a great tool to have. But, it also raises some concerns. This technology collects data and permanently saves it. This data can be easily accessed, not just by law enforcement, but with Neighbors app (as you mentioned). With this app, anyone has access to the data and can view footage, they do not even need to have a Ring Doorbell. Another potentially creepy aspect of this doorbell system is that it continues to film, no matter what. There is no consent involved, so if you go up to someone’s door and they have this device, it will record you whether you like it or not.


  3. The ring doorbell system, to me, has always seemed like a great innovative technology to help give homeowners a piece of mind when away from their homes and reduce front door theft. Growing up, I never had any security systems in my house, but I always wished we had one, so I feel like that is why I always thought they were such good devices. After reading your post, I am thinking of scenarios that I never thought of before. It is interesting to think about how a product that does mostly good, could be used for bad. Personally, I think that it does more good than bad. There are so many what if’s with any technology capable of recording video, but I think the safety that the Ring Doorbell gives homeowners outweighs the possible bad outcomes.

  4. I wanted to follow up on my previous comment by doing some research to see how much storage these devices have and how long they are available to the user. From the Ring FAQ page, I found how Ring devices store their footage. It holds videos on an account for up to 60 days, where they can then be saved, texted, emailed, etc. for a varying service cost of $3-$10 a month, depending on the plan you buy. Additionally, the amount of footage you can save seems to be unlimited in those 60 days. But, the device also works without service altogether, though you can not record what its camera sees.
    Source: https://shop.ring.com/pages/faq

  5. The point you bring up about privacy violations is something I never really ever considered with these devices. The option to allow others access to your own feed seems more of an accessive redundancy or easy marketing ploy to try and bolster the number of features these doorbells offer, in my opinion. Why not save the video yourself and send it to your neighbors if you see something that could be a possible threat to others that live by you? For my own privacy, personally I wouldn’t use this feature. As for the problem of the doorbells seeing the activity of your neighbor’s home, how’s that any different than if you just happen to see what they were doing through a window in your own home? Though it’s recorded, most if not all of these devices have an auto-delete feature after so many hours, unless the user makes sure to save them (and above that there are limits to how much you can save).

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