Ring doorbells and cameras are getting end-to-end encryption, and now I would consider buying one


I think Ring video doorbells and smart home cameras are great, but I was years old today when I decided I might consider buying one. This is because before today, I knew that my video was accessible to other people than me, that is to say that it could be listened to or watched by people to whom I did not no explicit authorization: subcontractors, employees and even police officers.

That has changed, as Ring now offers end-to-end encryption. This type of encryption means that the key to decrypting your data is yours and yours alone, preventing others from intercepting and / or viewing it without your having full access to it.

After a successful trial in the United States, it is deploying end-to-end encryption internationally on 13 of its cameras, along with a bunch of interesting security enhancements, including authentication apps and CAPTCHA controls. to thwart automated attacks by bad actors.

Even if you don’t activate the new feature, your footage will be encrypted when it hits Ring’s servers (as it used to be), but if you enable it, the only person who will ever be able to see the footage will be encrypted. records, it’s you. This is great news even if you don’t own an aluminum foil hat like me.

Why end-to-end encryption is important

If, like me, you grew up on a dystopian sci-fi diet, the prospect of an unaccountable giant corporation building a national and maybe even global surveillance network will give you cries of madness. And given that Amazon-owned Ring has ties to nearly 2,000 police departments in the United States, it’s not tin-foil hat territory to worry about who can access it. your camera or its images, because you simply do not control who receives the keys to your video.

Ring has changed the way he responds to requests from public safety agencies such as law enforcement. As of last month, these agencies should no longer request footage from Ring, but in public via the Neighbors app.

It’s a good start, but Ring still receives hundreds of legal requests from law enforcement and security services every year, as he explains in his transparency report. Enabling end-to-end encryption would mean that no one, not even Ring, would be able to access your video unless you allow it, and therefore in the know.

The argument against encryption is that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. But also, if we have nothing to hide, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to encrypt our data, especially when giant tech companies don’t have exactly great experience in data processing. ‘anticipation of data confidentiality or security issues.

For example, in 2019, The Verge reported that Ring employees could access user videos and executives could access live camera feeds from customers; there is no suggestion that this access has ever been abused, but it should just be something you need to worry about. End-to-end encryption removes this possibility.

Offering encryption won’t stop cops from cracking down on criminals, but it does give you real peace of mind that you’re not inviting unwanted visitors to take a look around your house. Think of it like curtains: we don’t have one because we’re not up to anything good. We have them because we don’t want other people looking out our windows. And I want these “curtains” for any camera that will be looking at my house all the time.

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