The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a report disclosing that Amazon-owned company Ring shares tons of users’ personal information with lots of different sources. The non-profit found that the Android version of the app is “packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of customers’ personally identifiable information.” The information comes from the EFF examining the network traffic Ring’s Android app transmits over the internet.
According to the report, Ring collects information including names, private IP addresses, mobile network carriers, and sensor data on the devices of paying customers. That personal data is then sent to four primary recipients. According to the EFF, the data collection is a problem because users have no idea it’s occurring, nor can they opt out. The EFF wrote that the collection is done “without meaningful user notification or consent and, in most cases, no way to mitigate the damage done.”
The main recipients of the information included Branch, ApplsFlyer, MixPanel and Facebook. Branch and AppsFlyer both focus on helping app makers track customer activities. MixPanel, which helps app makers identify trends in how customers are using their product, has a wide range of customers, including Uber, Twitter, and Expedia, among others. Facebook runs one of the world’s largest digital ad networks. Google-owned Crashlytics was also named as a recipient. Crashlytics focuses on helping app makers pinpoint software stability problems and fix them.
The EFF notes user data can be amalgamated to create a profile of a user’s digital habits. Third-party companies can use that profile to see what people are doing across other apps and websites. In November, the Mozilla Foundation, which created the Firefox browser, said Ring was among its worst privacy offenders.
Ring is framing the data tracking as all about making sure customers are happy with the software experience. It says the data collection is merely meant to improve the app’s performance. The company said in a statement, “Like many companies, Ring uses third-party service providers to evaluate the use of our mobile app, which helps us improve features, optimize the customer experience, and evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing.”