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Amazon faces questions on Ring security from five senators

The video doorbell is under scrutiny again.

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Five US senators sent Amazon a letter Wednesday with questions about the data security of its net-connected Ring video doorbell. The letter, signed by Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden, Edward Markey, Chris Van Hollen, Chris Coons and Gary Peters, comes after vulnerabilities regarding the Amazon device were discovered earlier this month.

"Millions of consumers use Ring," the letter says. "Ring devices routinely upload data, including video records, to Amazon's servers. Amazon therefore holds a vast amount of deeply sensitive data and video footage detailing the lives of millions of Americans."

This footage could threaten US national security if exploited by foreign national intelligence agencies, the senators argue, in addition to threatening the privacy and safety of Americans.

Earlier this month, researchers found that Ring doorbells had a vulnerability that for months leaked Wi-Fi login info, including usernames and passwords. The discovery came on top of revelations earlier in the year about how Amazon is helping police build a surveillance network with its Ring doorbell cameras.

Amazon has partnered with more than 500 cities to use Ring footage for law enforcement purposes, according to digital rights group Fight for the Future

The senators' letter pointed to the Wi-Fi vulnerability and reports last year that Ring workers in Ukraine were able to watch people's videos without them knowing.

"Americans who make the choice to install Ring products in and outside their homes do so under the assumption that they are ... making the neighborhood safer," the letter says. "The American people have a right to know who else is looking at the data they provide to Ring, and if that data is secure from hackers."

The lawmakers want a response from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by Jan. 6, 2020, including the following information:

-- How many Ring devices have been sold in the US.
-- Whether Ring deletes video footage.
-- How long data is kept.
-- Whether footage is encrypted.
-- What Ring's security testing and auditing practices are.
-- How much access Ring employees have to footage and live feeds.
-- Whether employees in Ukraine and other foreign nations have access.
-- What Ring's plans are in regard to facial recognition.

The senators' letter also followed more than 10,000 people calling on Congress last month to investigate Amazon's surveillance "empire."

Ring said it is currently reviewing the letter, but has no comment at this time.

Originally published Nov. 20, 11:42 a.m. PT.
Update, 1:49 p.m.: Ring declined to comment.

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