After a rough few months of bad press and suggestions that it quietly shares data with third-parties, Ring has updated its app with the new Ring Control Center.
The software update is a very positive step towards helping Ring owners better control their data. It also tells you if your local police department is a Ring partner. And that’s where the goodwill Ring may have gained with its software update was lost on me: I just found out that my local police are Ring partners and it wasn’t easy to find that out.
On the plus side, the new Control Center places two-factor authentication as a front-and-center option, which I appreciate. And I would highly recommend any Ring owners enabled this feature for security reasons. If someone gets your Ring account credentials, they won’t be able to access your information without a second piece of information.
You can also easily view which devices you’ve authorized to view your Ring video and history, which users have access to the doorbell and what third-party accounts, such as IFTTT, to your Ring.
Ring’s Video Requests section follows and better explains how the Amazon-owned brand works with local police. You can opt-out of sharing your Ring video with local law enforcement. By doing so, you won’t receive notifications from the police if they want to view video from your doorbell going forward. However, this function doesn’t apply to any prior footage that you’ve made public through the Ring Neighbors service.
Overall, I like the changes although they still don’t address the public-private “sales channel” partnership between Ring and police departments; something that still doesn’t sit well with me.
Although I’m not a Ring owner currently, since I replaced my Ring with a Nest Hello about 18 months ago, I was able to view a map of Ring’s “Neighbor’s Law Enforcement” partnerships, embedded below so you can check your location too.
Low and behold, I found out that my local township police department has partnered with Ring. I’d never have known that if I didn’t hear about the Google Map and actually look around in my area on it. Even worse, there isn’t a single mention of Amazon or Ring on the local police web page. So much for transparency.
That brings me back to thoughts I shared last week on smart cities, even though I live out in the “smart sticks” of small-town Pennsylvania. I haven’t opted in to be viewed by someone’s personal camera and have that footage available to the police.
I get that when I’m in a public place, my privacy rights are pretty much gone. But what about when I’m in a public place being captured by a private consumer camera? That’s an open question in my mind and still doesn’t give me a warm feeling about Ring, even though the new Control Center is a step in the right direction.