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Judge to Amazon’s Ring: Not so fast. Your patent application needs a look-see

Judge to Amazon’s Ring: Not so fast. Your patent application needs a look-see

It is too early to strike the allegations in court that Ring doorbells record anyone in visual or hearing range and hiding away their biometrics.

Ring, owned by Amazon, is facing a potential class action (Michelle Wise v. Ring) accusing the company of violating the state of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act.

The claimants say the devices recorded them without their permission and the company publicly displayed no information about how the data would be stored and when it would be destroyed, all BIPA provisions, according to Bloomberg Law.

Potentially making thing worse, Amazon is sharing Ring data with police in some locations.

People’s identity cannot be known, according to Ring lawyers, unless Ring somehow also gets demographic or biographic information to tie to a face. They asked for the case to be dismissed.

No, said Judge John Coughenour in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, where an Amazon shareholder complaint is also being heard.

Coughenour said that Ring’s patent application says the doorbell can identify someone with biometrics on the spot.

The judge did not say Ring cannot argue its side of the argument. It is too early to decide on it right now.

Ring doorbells’ feature list and media reviews of their capabilities may not make this a quick matter for Amazon.

An article this week by electronics-culture magazine Wired notes that the device records what happens each the doorbell is pressed. That includes the visitor and much of what happens around and behind them. And it will record events up to 155 degrees left to right and up to 25 feet away every time it detects motion.

And some models reportedly can capture audio from 20 feet away.

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