When it comes to our data, the question of ownership isn’t completely clear-cut. When you give your information to a home security company in order to use its services or products, it has access to that information and will use it. Once you give the company permission, your data is its to use, and while this isn’t exactly “ownership” of your data, it amounts to almost the same thing as long as you’re a customer. There have even been reports of companies sharing customer info with outside sources (with police (1) and marketing analytic groups (2)) without letting customers know it’s happening.
So what kind of information is your home security company gathering on you? Read on to learn more about what data is collected, how it’s used, and where to get more details.
How can I find out how my home security data is used?
Here are some of the biggest home security providers’ privacy policies:
What information do home security companies have about me?
Any time you create an account, buy a product, activate equipment, or sign up for services, you give a company data about yourself. With home security companies, you also share information about your home through the devices that make up and connect to your home security system.
Here’s a rundown of basic information your home security company gathers about you:
- Personal identifying information: This is data associated with creating an account, such as your name, phone number, mailing address, physical address, email address, birth date, and account password. If you sign up for monitoring services, you may also need to provide demographic data about yourself and/or your family, including how many adults/children live at the monitored property.
- Financial information: This includes anything needed to process a financial transaction or run a credit check, including your Social Security number, payment card number, and/or bank account info.
- Property information: In order to get a quote from a home security company, you have to share details about your property like what type of building it is (e.g., single-family vs. apartment), how many doors and windows there are, if there is an attached garage, etc.
- Web activity information: Through the website and through any devices connected to the internet, the company receives data about IP addresses, internet service providers (ISPs), date/time stamp of online activity, and other information automatically collected in internet log files.
Your home security company also receives information from your home security system and any devices connected to it, including cameras, sensors, alarms, smart devices, and even your mobile phone. This is simply part of having a home security system; in order to provide monitoring services or even just text alerts to your phone, your provider has to have access to the information transmitted by those devices.
The information from your home security system may include any or all of the following:
- Audio, video, and still-image recordings
- Geolocation and GPS info
- Motion detection or sensor activity
- The status of your system (armed/disarmed)
- Climate conditions surrounding the devices
- Battery status
Home security companies generally use cloud storage to keep this information accessible to you in the form of activity logs or saved footage. The audio/video recordings are saved for the length of time specified in your contract—you may have a service plan for only 24 hours of saved footage, or maybe you upgraded to seven days or a month (or more) of saved video. Once a video has been stored for that specific length of time, it’s deleted and new data takes its place.
How do home security companies use my information?
Here are the most common uses as listed in privacy policies:
- For analytical, communication, and marketing purposes
- To develop new products and services
- To share with third-party service providers (payment processing, website host, cloud-storage host, etc.)
- To share with marketing and advertising partners
- To alert emergency services or law enforcement (if you have professional monitoring)
- For legal reasons, to cooperate with law enforcement, or as required by law or legal request
Do home security companies sell my data?
How long do companies keep my info?
Is my personal information secure?
With all this personal data and recordings floating around in cloud storage, you definitely want to know how secure your home security data is. Companies do what they can to prevent a security breach or hack, but there’s no guarantee. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to protect your information on your end and do some homework to make sure your chosen home security company is doing everything possible on its end as well:
- Make sure you use strong and unique passwords
- Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication whenever possible
- Look for companies that send out regular firmware and software updates
- Find out what kind of encryption your home security company uses
- Do a quick internet search to find out what kind of security breaches your company has dealt with in the past and how it addressed those issues
The bottom line: Should I be worried about sharing data with my home security company?
Should you be worried about the data your home security company is gathering about you? Probably not; your home security data is mainly used to provide you with the home security services you signed up for. However, it’s always best to stay informed and do your own research into your company’s practices and policies. You have ownership over your data—and the responsibility to adhere to any privacy laws set by your state. But when you let a home security company into your home, you also grant them access to your data, and it’s best to know exactly how it’ll be used.
Kate Herrick is a freelance writer with a decade of experience, and whose goal is to create clear, useful, and informative writing, no matter the topic. When it comes to home security, Kate has researched and written about everything from professional companies and the latest home automation to fire safety, online safeguards, and personal security. When not at the computer, she is either reading or trying to keep up with her four crazy kids.
Eric Paulsen is a writer, editor, and strategist who has been creating content in the B2B, healthcare, FinTech, home security, and government sectors for more than five years. He holds an MFA in creative writing and lets everyone in his life hang that over his head. When he doesn’t have his hands deep in some piece of content, he’s either watching baseball or praying for the offseason to end quickly.
Endnotes and sources
- “Amazon says it’s given information from Ring cameras to police without owners’ consent,” NPR. Accessed 4 January 2023.
- “Ring app shares your personal information with Facebook and others, report finds,” Los Angeles Times. Accessed 4 January 2023.