Ring cameras and Ring doorbells are great for crime prevention and parcel deliveries because they record in full HD and record audio. However this also means that they can be misused to invade neighbor’s privacy.
As a result, this video explores some of the things you can do to protect your neighbor’s privacy when installing and using your Ring doorbells and cameras:
The video timestamps are:
- 0:00 – Intro
- 0:56 – Don’t aim at neighbor’s property
- 1:20 – Privacy zones
- 2:00 – Motion zones
- 2:53 – Disable audio streaming
- 3:46 – Neighbor’s app misuse
- 4:54 – Ending
With great power comes great responsibility! That’s actually pretty true. Hello, I’m Tristan from Smart Home Point, and today I wanted to do a video and talk through privacy concerns surrounding Ring cameras and Ring doorbells. Because although they’re really nice products and they’re really easy to buy and set up, there’s also a creepy side to them. After all, by default they record in full HD and they record all the audio of anyone passing by or wherever they’re pointed at, and that can be a bit of a bad thing as well.
Me walking along: “Yeah, I can’t wait. I’ve got my little red dress. Yeah, I can’t wait. I’ll see you there. Oh, oh, they’ve got a Ring doorbell!”
I’ve actually had a few people email me in the past few months and actually say that their neighbor has installed a bunch of Ring devices and pointed it at their backyard over their porch and they’ve actually asked me for help, if there’s a way that they can protect against this. So it got me thinking that I wanted to do this YouTube video and just talk through some of the downsides of Ring cameras and how you can protect against this.
Don’t aim at neighbor’s property
Okay. So I think as a responsible Ring owner the first thing to do, as I mentioned earlier, is don’t point your Ring cameras at your neighbors’ properties. In some countries this is illegal, while in other countries it’s a bit of a legal gray area. But nonetheless, unless you really get on with your neighbor and you’ve actually got documented proof that they consent to it, don’t point your Ring camera at a neighbor’s property. But if there’s no way around this – maybe you’ve got a shared yard or maybe there’s a shared walkway or something like that – what you can do in the Ring app, is use something called privacy zones. It’s really easy to set up as you can see.
You go into the Ring app, you go into your Ring device and you can then go in to privacy zones, under the privacy setting section. And from there, you can actually draw a black box in a particular area. What’ll then happen going forward, is any future recordings will have that area blacked out. And that’s really good, because even if that Ring camera does encroach on your neighbor’s property a bit, you can actually show them video footage as proof that it’s not permanently recording their properties, that might help resolve some of your neighbor’s concerns about your Ring camera and where it’s pointed at.
The second thing you can do is use motion zones and configure them so that they’re not constantly recording every single time that your neighbor leaves their property or comes back in. This is especially important if you have a shared path, for example. Now as you can see on the screen if you’ve got a hard-wired or plugged in Ring device, then you can actually customize the exact motion zones. If you got battery-powered Ring device, up until recently you couldn’t quite do this, you just had a much more limited way of configuring things, but recently, as of October 2020 I believe, there’s been new software updates coming out that even if you’ve got battery-powered Ring device, as long as it’s more modern device, you can actually use these customizable motion zones as well. So do check them out even if you got a battery-powered device. And what this can mean is as I said, they won’t record every single time that when your neighbors comes in and out of their properties, that can be another way of protecting your neighbors’ privacy.
Disable audio streaming
Thirdly, you can disable audio streaming and audio recording. Now this is enabled by default. But what that actually means is that, every single time somebody walks past your Ring camera and motion actually starts off the recording, it’ll detect what they’re saying and it’ll record all that in the Ring cloud. And that’s not really ideal. You don’t always wanna snoop on all your neighbors private conversations. Now most of the time this won’t be a problem and certainly if you’ve got a large property and your Ring cameras are just pointed at your property, then you probably should record what people are saying. Because if you’ve got somebody scoping out your property with someone else, you wanna hear what they’re actually saying. But if like in my case, there’s not much gap between the front of your property and the sidewalk, you might want to disable audio streaming and audio recording, because otherwise you’re gonna listen to every single thing that’s being said.
Neighbor’s app misuse
The final thing I would say is that if you’ve got the Neighbors app, if you’ve got access to it such as in America, be careful with what’s being posted. Ring obviously market the Neighbors app as a really useful way of preventing crime. And the idea behind it is good. For example, if your car or your door handle was tried at night by a burglar – or wanna be burglar – then you can actually share that video footage into the Neighbors app and you can warn your other neighbors, and that’s really good. But sometimes the Neighbors app descends into “poop wars”, so people arguing about cats or dogs pooing on their front lawn or they moan about, you know, kids running over their front lawn and things like that. And actually sometimes that’s not always productive. And actually I think you gotta be sometimes careful what you post on the Neighbors app so that it doesn’t become clicky and sometimes it doesn’t step into actually invading people’s privacy. And whilst Ring does have community guidelines and they do moderate things, and of course you can configure the alerts that you get as well from the Neighbors app. I think you just gotta be a bit careful about using the Neighbors app and also what’s posted on there, so that it doesn’t become a bit clicky or invade people’s privacy. Right.
In summary, I quite like Ring cameras. I got three of my own, I could see myself buying more. And when I walk around my housing estate, there’s I think 300 houses and probably around a quarter of them have some sort of Ring or Nest camera, so clearly they’re very poplar. But I think I just wanted to do this video and say that it’s important to be responsible with your usage of Ring cameras, it’s important to go through all the different settings and consider your neighbor’s privacy wherever possible. But of course, you’ve gotta make sure that you don’t turn off too many settings and as a result have it that your Ring camera misses crime, because that is kind of a bit pointless. So, I’d be interested to know your thoughts on what I’ve said today. If you have any comments please leave them in the video below. Please also like this video and don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you.
If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions about this article, please leave a comment below. Please note that all comments go into a moderation queue (to prevent blog spam). Your comment will be manually reviewed and approved by Tristan in less than a week. Thanks!