In what is probably a shock to nobody at this point, two companies with a poor track record on security measures are divvying up your personal info.
The news was first broken by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which discovered that the Ring doorbell app is jam packed with third-party trackers.
This shouldn’t be a surprise in itself – Ring openly acknowledges that it uses third-party services for analytic purposes and even lists these services here.
However, what does sound alarm bells is that Facebook isn’t mentioned in this list, when it probably should be.
In total, EFF identified four companies that are receiving your personally identifiable information via the Ring app: Facebook, Branch, Mixpanel and Appsflyer.
Out of these, Ring only lists Mixpanel as a third-party analytics service, and at the time of publication the full extent of the company’s data collection wasn’t outlined at all.
Facebook specifically collects information on your time zone, device model, language preferences and screen resolution. It also receives your “unique identifier”, which allows companies to track you across apps.
This information is sent to the social media giant even if you don’t have a Facebook account, so it seems there is little you can do to prevent this happening if you’re a Ring user. Especially as there’s not ‘Opt Out’ button on the third-parties list.
According to EFF’s blog post, this data sharing poses a serious threat: “The danger in sending even small bits of information is that analytics and tracking companies are able to combine these bits together to form a unique picture of the user’s device…in essence providing trackers the ability to spy on what a user is doing in their digital lives and when they are doing it.”
In the past, Ring has been quick to shift blame onto customers when it came to security issues, claiming that hackers were able to break into cameras “due to the fact that customers often use the same username and password for their various accounts and subscriptions.”
But this hardly seems like a reassuring response from a company that sells itself as a security device.
Similarly, despite Facebook’s recent attempts to improve its security measures, this shows that the company has a lot of work to do when it comes to reassuring customers on the safety of their data.
When we reached out to Ring for comment, a spokesperson said: “Like many companies, Ring uses third-party service providers to evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimise the customer experience, and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing.
“Ring ensures that service providers’ use of the data provided is contractually limited to appropriate purposes such as performing these services on our behalf, and not for other purposes.”
The company did not clarify how customers can opt-out of sharing information with Facebook.
We also contacted Facebook several times, asking them to confirm that it is gathering data, but so far the company has not clarified the situation.