OWNERS of the biggest smart doorbell brands have been warned that recordings could be made of their devices without asking first.
A report last year claimed that Ring alone had released homeowners’ footage to law enforcement on at least 11 occasions in 2022 without their knowledge.
Google is also reportedly doing the same thing with its Nest doorbell devices.
The company’s terms of service state that it can share videos of Nest doorbells with the police in extremely life-threatening situations.
“If we have a reasonable belief that we can prevent someone from dying or suffering serious physical harm, we may release information to a government agency,” the company says.
“For example, bomb threats, school shootings, kidnappings, suicide prevention and missing persons cases.”
“We continue to review these requests in light of applicable laws and our policies.”
A spokesman said CNET that Google “may release information to law enforcement without a subpoena or warrant” – at least in the US under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
The relevant law states that content may be provided “if the provider has a good faith belief that an emergency involving the risk of death or serious physical injury to any person warrants the prompt disclosure of communications related to required in the event of an emergency”.
However, the spokesman said Google is trying to give users advance notice.
Ring — owned by Amazon — previously said it was “simply untrue that Ring would allow anyone unrestricted access to customer data or video, as we have repeatedly made clear to our customers and others.”
And it has turned down some requests it has received.
But others who make video doorbells, like Arlo, Eufy and Wyze, have said they would never release video without prior approval.
Some devices, including Ring, offer end-to-end encryption that would prevent anyone from recording video. However, in the case of Ring, this isn’t on by default, you’ll need to turn it on yourself.
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