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Democrats raise privacy concerns over Amazon home security system

Democrats raise privacy concerns over Amazon home security system
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A group of Senate Democrats raised concerns on Wednesday around the data security practices of Amazon's home security company, Ring.

In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosElon Musk passes Bill Gates to become world's second-richest person in Bloomberg rankings How space exploration will help to address climate change Bezos makes first donations from billion Earth Fund MORE, Democratic Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans MORE (Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (Md.), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsOvernight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus MORE (Del.), Gary PetersGary PetersRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (Mich.), and Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE (Mass.) questioned Amazon having access to the personal data of millions of Americans who use the Ring system in their homes.

“Ring devices routinely upload data, including video recordings, to Amazon’s servers,” the senators wrote. “Amazon therefore holds a vast amount of deeply sensitive data and video footage detailing the lives of millions of Americans in and near their homes.”

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The senators noted that “if hackers or foreign actors were to gain access to this data, it would not only threaten the privacy and safety of the impacted Americans; it could also threaten U.S. national security.”

The Ring system includes internet-connected doorbells that also serve as cameras, home monitoring systems and other safety systems.

The senators sent the letter in response to reports last week that the Ring doorbell system had a vulnerability that left Wi-Fi networks of users exposed to hackers, a vulnerability that has since been patched. The senators also cited concerns related to a January report from The Intercept that found that Ring executives were given access to the company’s technical support video portal, which includes videos of customers' homes.

“These reports raise serious questions about Ring’s internal cybersecurity and privacy safeguards, particularly if employees and contractors in foreign countries have access to American consumers’ data,” the senators wrote.

The Senate Democrats asked that Bezos respond to a series of questions, including whether Ring deletes uploaded video footage generated from its devices, what security measures are in place to protect sensitive customer data, and Ring’s involvement in facial recognition technologies. 

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The senators gave Bezos until Jan. 6 to respond to their questions. 

"Our team is currently reviewing the letter from the senator, but I don't have information to share at this time," an Amazon official told The Hill.

Updated at 1:53 p.m.