Ring has announced that it will soon offer the option to enable end-to-end encryption for the video feeds from its smart doorbells and connected home security cameras. This new higher level of security will be an optional feature and builds upon Ring’s existing encryption features. The company says it will be available for free to all Ring customers and plans to offer the feature by the end of this year.
With end-to-end encryption enabled, the video footage will be encrypted on the camera and can only be decrypted with a key stored on the mobile device used to view the recording. The setting is optional because once end-to-end encryption is enabled, certain features such as accessing the video feed through Alexa on an Echo Show or Fire TV device or sharing footage from the camera with others will no longer work. It essentially limits the Ring camera’s feed to the app itself.
In addition to the stronger encryption, Ring is also updating its mobile app with more information on how videos are encrypted or stored. But more significantly, the company is finally allowing Ring owners to completely disable the controversial Neighbors feed from the app. The Neighbors feed is where Ring owners can share clips captured by their cameras and is ostensibly designed to alert others to possible crime or emergencies in their areas. But it’s long been criticized for being both fearmongering and an abuse vector for those in marginalized communities and hasn’t been proven effective in reducing crime.
The other big criticism against Ring has been its close partnerships with police departments, which have been able to use Ring cameras as surveillance devices in hundreds of communities across the country. Today’s announcements don’t change any of this — Ring will still partner with police departments and owners will have to manually opt out of being contacted by police for their camera footage if they don’t want to participate in the program.