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 BezosFree speech, Whole Foods, and the endangered apolitical workplace Space: One important thing that might retain bipartisan focus Virtual realities may solve Fermi's paradox about extraterrestrials MORE, Democratic Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates Sanders, 50 Democrats unveil bill to send N95 masks to all Americans MORE (Ore.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Former Maryland rep announces bid for old House seat Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline MORE (Md.), Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSchumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates Manchin, Sinema join GOP to sink filibuster change for voting bill Democrats' filibuster gambit unravels MORE (Del.), Gary PetersGary PetersDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Michigan Republican John James 'strongly considering' House run Officials point to Apache vulnerability in urging passage of cyber incident reporting bill MORE (Mich.), and Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Health Care — White House boosts mask availability Senate Democrats call for investigation into reported price gouging for COVID-19 tests Biden's FDA nominee advances through key Senate committee 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. 

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.