Lawsuit Says Ring Cameras Spied on, Harassed Owners

Class-action filing says Amazon didn't do enough to protect security system from hackers
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2019 9:16 AM CST
Lawsuit Says Ring Cameras Spied on, Harassed Owners
A Ring doorbell camera is seen at a home in Connecticut.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

An 8-year-old girl was in her room when a Ring security camera began talking to her, saying "I'm your best friend. I'm Santa Claus." An outside camera told children playing basketball in their driveway to come closer. A voice from another Ring camera's two-way speaker spewed racial slurs at a man. Those accusations are contained in a $5 million class-action lawsuit against Ring and its owner, Amazon, KTRK reports. The suit was brought by the Alabama father of the children who were playing basketball when his camera was hacked. It argues that Ring and Amazon haven't done enough to protect the systems from hackers. "Ring does not fulfill its core promise of providing privacy and security for its customers," the suit says.

Ring has argued that the system's security isn't the problem. "What happened was, this came from someone using the same username and password elsewhere ... and they logged into using that user's account," its CEO said of a past breach. The lawsuit says the company is trying to blame customers and should have required two-factor authentication, in which owners take a second step—often punching in a code texted to their phone—to enable the system. One hitch is that most people don't know what two-factor authentication is, per Vox. Once hackers are in, they can watch and speak to people with Ring cameras. A hacker woke up a couple sleeping at home, saying he'd "terminate" them unless they paid a ransom. Privacy advocates have warned about this sort of thing before, and groups issued a product warning this month about Ring, per Vox. There also have been calls for review sites to stop recommending Ring, which Wirecutter has done. (More hacking stories.)

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