The Detroit Post
Sunday, 17 October, 2021

Do Amazon Own Ring

Daniel Brown
• Friday, 06 November, 2020
• 13 min read

The Ring Spotlight Cam also allows you to monitor the exterior of your home and sheds a light on your yard when you need it. In an emailed statement, an Amazon spokesperson said, Ring's home security products and services have delighted customers since Day 1.

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We're excited to work with this talented team and help them in their mission to keep homes safe and secure.” In an emailed statement, a Ring spokesperson said, Ring is committed to our mission to reduce crime in neighborhoods by providing effective yet affordable home security tools to our neighbors that make a positive impact on our homes, our communities and the world.

Most people, upon selling their company to Amazon for $1 billion, might buy a flashy new watch, a Luke sports car or even a mega-mansion. The founder of Ring, a home security start-up, bought a mountain bike.

It was a treat that Smirnoff had been eyeing for a while: a specialized, S-Works Epic mountain bike. He says he and his future boss at Amazon went for a walk during the due diligence process.

Smirnoff strode onto the national stage in 2013 as a contestant on “Shark Tank.” Back then, his company was losing money and could barely cover its costs.

Smirnoff was already a success in his own right, however, having built and sold a slew of other companies, some fetching millions of dollars. Free publicity from the show helped boost sales, getting the company back on track.

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He returned to the “Shark Tank” stage this past Sunday, this time as a guest judge. At his start, Smirnoff often used his home garage as an office and as a workshop to tinker and invent.

Smirnoff says he's excited for the freedom he has now: “I called myself a Chief Inventor at Ring. Type Subsidiary Predecessor Home Automation, Inc. Founded2013; 8 years ago (2013) (as Door bot)Founder Jamie Smirnoff Headquarters Santa Monica, California, U.S. Products Smart doorbells Outdoor camerawomen alarm systemsServices Cloud recordingAlarm monitoring 1,300 (2018) Parent Amazon (2018–present) Ring LLC is a home security and smart home company owned by Amazon.

It hosts an app, Neighbors, for online social sharing of captured footage among users. Ring also provides video footage from its cameras and data from its Neighbors app to law enforcement agencies on request.

Its police partnerships have been criticized by civil rights advocacy groups as building an invasive private surveillance network. Door bot was crowdfunded via Christie Street, and raised US$364,000, more than the $250,000 requested.

In 2013, Smirnoff and Door bot appeared on an episode of the reality series Shark Tank to seek a $700,000 investment in the company, which he estimated was worth $7 million. Kevin O’Leary made an offer as a potential investor but Smirnoff declined it.


After being on Shark Tank, Smirnoff rebranded the company which received $5 million in additional sales. In 2016, Shaquille O'Neal acquired an equity stake in Ring, and subsequently became a spokesperson in the company's marketing.

In addition, The Intercept reported that the video data was stored unencrypted. In June 2019, Ring faced criticism over a “Community Alert” program, under which the company has made geographically-targeted sponsored posts on social media services such as Facebook, asking readers to provide tips on suspects in verified cases, based on imagery posted on the Neighbors service by a Ring customer.

Ring states that it seeks permission from the user before using their content in this manner. However, these discoveries did lead to concerns over the use of such footage in material deemed to effectively be advertising, as well as concerns over other possible uses of the footage (such as for training facial recognition) due to the wide copyright license that users must grant to in order to use Neighbors (an irrevocable, unlimited, and royalty-free license to use shared content “for any purpose and in any media formats in any media channels without compensation to you”), and Ring's partnerships with local law enforcement agencies.

In July 2019, Vice publication Motherboard obtained records revealing the extent of Ring's partnership with the Lakeland (Florida) Police Department (LPD). The department was granted access to a “Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal” for making posts on Neighbors and the ability to “request videos directly from Ring users,” and received a donation of 15 Ring cameras.

However, the memorandum of understanding stated that the LPD would be required to participate in “outreach efforts on the platform to encourage adoption of the platform/app” (receiving $10 credits for Ring camera purchases for each new user). Ring also recommended that the LPD establish specific new positions for the partnership, including a “social media coordinator”.


Later in the month, Motherboard obtained public records containing an officer's notes from an April 2019 training webinar, which stated that Ring had partnered with at least 200 law enforcement partners. In early-August 2019, Motherboard also reported that Ring would match payments by cities to cover the subsidized purchase of Ring cameras, so that they can be resold to residents at a discount.

In November 2020, Amazon announced the recall of 350,000 ring devices in the US and 8,700 in Canada due to a potential fire risk. The Ring Video Doorbell is the company's flagship product; it is a smart doorbell that contains a high-definition camera, a motion sensor, and a microphone and speaker for two-way audio communication.

It integrates with an associated mobile app, Neighbors, which allows users to view real-time video from the camera, receive notifications when the doorbell is rung, and communicate with visitors at the door via the integrated speaker and microphone. It is also capable of operating as a surveillance camera, and can automatically trigger recordings when rung, or when its motion sensors are activated.

A second-generation model, Ring Doorbell 2, was released in 2017, with updated hardware and a 1080p camera with improved low-light performance, that does not rely solely on Wi-Fi, unlike the original model. The “Chime Pro” is an extended version that also doubles as a wireless repeater for Wi-Fi networks.

In 2015, Ring first released the “Stick-Up Cam”, a wireless IP camera. It was updated in 2018 with a cylindrical form factor, motion detection, two-way audio, as well as battery, wired, and solar power options.


Car Cam consists of a dashcam and a rear window camera to capture the interior. It features similar car alarm functionality, as well as “emergency crash assist” to automatically notify emergency services if a “serious crash” is detected, and a traffic stop voice command.

The Ring Protect Basic” plan allows footage to be retained for 60 days, while the Ring Protect Plus” subscription adds “unlimited” storage of footage, enables professional monitoring and LTE cellular backup on the Ring Alarm, and extends the warranty on the user's Ring products from one year to the life of the devices. In 2018, Ring launched Neighbors, a hyperlocalsocial networking app.

Described as being akin to a neighborhood watch, it allows users to crowdsource information on and discuss safety and security concerns in their area. The service allows users to share footage captured from Ring products, so that others can help to identify suspects.

All user posts are anonymous and do not include specific location information, and are moderated to remove off-topic content (in contrast to services such as Next door, it focuses exclusively on crime and safety). Ring also has partnerships with local police departments in some cities to incorporate Neighbors into their crime monitoring processes, and they are also able to make official posts for distribution on the service.

Ring has credited the service with having helped to solve crimes, and noted that activity on the service surged in California regions affected by wildfires in November 2018. Amazon disclosed Ring's criteria for accepting requests from police departments for video footage shared to the Neighbors' portal in a response to Massachusetts Senator Ed Market on November 1, 2019.


Each police request must be associated with a case number and submitted individually, although no evidence is needed. Ring provides at most 12 hours of footage recorded within the previous 45 days in a maximum search area of 0.5 square miles for each request.

Market criticized Amazon's response, describing Ring as “an open door for privacy and civil liberty violations”. Police departments may access user-generated footage through the Ring Neighborhoods portal by request, using a map interface.

After a police officer requests video from a list of houses, Ring sends all affected users automated messages requesting permission to release the footage. Techie gave the second-generation Ring doorbell a 4 out of 5, noting improvements in hardware and ease of installation over the first-generation model, but criticizing a lack of printed and online documentation.

Digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future criticized Ring for using its cameras and Neighbors app to build a private surveillance network via partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, which encourage them to promote the products. The group stated that these partnerships “undermine our democratic process and basic civil liberties “.

Matt Cable of the American Civil Liberties Union said that the Ring Neighbors Portal “blurs the line between corporate and government surveillance” and that “Many people are not going to feel like they have a choice when law enforcement asks for access to their footage”. In November 2020, a pilot program in Jackson, Mississippi enabled participating Ring users to enable police to livestream their cameras at anytime.


In a December 2019 test, Motherboard found that Ring's software did not implement “basic security features”, allowing the publication to access a Ring account from IP addresses based in multiple countries without warning the user. Next door network leaks metadata about the footage posted in videos and “crime alerts”.

This metadata, combined with public city map data, is frequently sufficient to discover the exact location of the Ring doorbell or a camera. In one experiment, Gizmo do located 20 thousand devices based on information collected (scraped from the app) over a period of month.

University researchers were able to locate 440 thousand devices using data spanning back to 2016. This feature allows devices owned by different people to communicate and transmit data without consent of either owner.

Gizmo do criticized Amazon Sidewalk for allowing strangers to connect to Ring owners' home Wi-Fi network. On January 27, 2021, the Electronic Frontier Foundation concluded that the Ring doorbell app for Android was sending identifiable personal information– including names, IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent IDs and sensor data –to four analytics and marketing companies: Facebook, Mix panel, Applier and branch.Io.

Ring, which Amazon just bought for $1 billion, was once rejected by 'Shark Tank “. ^ Wharton, Paul Weiss Rifling; Boeing, Garrison LLP-H. Christopher; Frey, Christopher D.; Gonzalez, Roberto J.; Johnson, Jet Charles; Banter, Jonathan S.; Raster, Lori L.; Rhee, Jeannie S.; Marlowe, Richard C. Ring LLC Faces a Proposed Class Action Alleging Camera Doorbells Should Incorporate Enhanced Cybersecurity Features”.


^ “After This Entrepreneur Got Nothing on 'Shark Tank,' Richard Branson Wrote Him a Check”. ^ a b “This guy turned his failure on 'Shark Tank' into a $109 million investment from Goldman Sachs”.

“The Exclusive Inside Story Of Ring : From 'Shark Tank' Reject To Amazon's Latest Acquisition”. “Shark Tank Reject Raises $209 Million, Fights Crime”.

“For Owners of Amazon's Ring Security Cameras, Strangers May Have Been Watching Too”. Ring puts suspected thief in Facebook sponsored ads”.

Amazon Told Police It Has Partnered With 200 Law Enforcement Agencies”. ^ Haskins, Caroline; Keller, Jason; Mead, Derek (August 2, 2019).

“US Cities Are Helping People Buy Amazon Surveillance Cameras With Taxpayer Money”. Amazon fixes Ring Video Doorbell Wi-Fi security vulnerability”.

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Ring doorbells had vulnerability leaking Wi-Fi login info, researchers find”. ^ Ring Video Doorbell Pro Under the Scope” (PDF).

Ring camera hacker uses home security system to spew racial slurs at Florida family”. “Hacker says, 'pay bitcoin ransom or get terminated,' through couple's Ring security cameras”.

“Family says hackers accessed a Ring camera in their 8-year-old daughter's room”. Ring Finally Rolls Out Mandatory Two-Factor Authentication After Privacy Scandals”.

“Congress demands answers from Ring on police partnerships”. United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Amazon's Ring recalls 350,000 video doorbells for fire hazard”. Ring modernized the doorbell, then its inventor, Jamie Smirnoff, went to war against crime”.

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“Doormat lets you see and talk with whose at the door from the comfort of your smartphone (video)”. “Doormat: The Wi-Fi Doorbell That Connects to Your Smartphone | Complex”.

^ Ring Video Doorbell 2 review: Better features, new frustrations”. “Prelacy Friday deal alert: Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Echo Dot for $140”.

“Affordable, DIY Ring Protect Looks to Lock Up the Home Security System Market”. “No doorbell, no problem: Ring introduces Door View Cam that replaces peephole in homes”.

^ a b c Ring's newest security camera is a $249 autonomous indoor drone shipping in 2021”. Ring announces new line of security cameras for cars”.

^ “In first move since Amazon acquisition, Ring launches Neighbors app to help users fight crime”. “How Ring's Neighbors app is making home security a social thing”.

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Amazon lets police ask for Ring videos that are more than a month old”. Amazon's Home Surveillance Chief Declared War on “Dirtbag Criminals” as Company Got Closer to Police”.

^ Amazon's Ring doorbell police tie-up criticized”. “This map tells you where police have partnered with Amazon's Ring ".

Amazon's Ring Is a Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats”. “Police are tapping into residents' Ring doorbells and home security cameras to stream 24/7 live video”.

^ Ring's Hidden Data Let Us Map Amazon's Sprawling Home Surveillance Network”. Ring Doorbell App Packed with Third-Party Trackers”.

Amazon's Ring will let users opt out of sharing data with other companies”. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ring.

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