Canary home security company sued over $10 monitoring fee

Canary View review
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

There are plenty of smart home security cameras out there, and it can be hard to differentiate between the bunch to figure out which one is best for you. Jeff Reifman of Portland, Oregon was looking for the right camera for his home and stumbled on Canary, a security startup that offered a camera with the promise of no monthly fees or subscriptions. Then, according to Reifman, the company started charging a monthly fee for features that were once free. Now he and a group of other consumers are suing.

In a class-action lawsuit filed by Reifman and other Canary customers in the United States District Court in New York, the company is accused of pulling a bait and switch. In court documents, the consumers claim they purchased Canary devices that promised no additional fees other than the cost of buying the device. That changed come October 2017, when several formerly free features required a monthly payment to access. That included the ability to watch previously recorded videos.

“Plaintiffs and other consumers purchased the Products reasonably believing that all key features included with their initial purchase would remain available without any future cost,” the lawsuit says. “Had Plaintiffs and other consumers known that Canary would remove the Product’s features and place them behind a paywall, they would not have purchased the Products or would have paid significantly less for the Products.”

In a blog post written by Reifman last year, he claims the sudden decision to put security features behind a paywall essentially rendered the camera useless. He was no longer able to access more than a “preview” of prior recordings, and a night mode feature that made it possible to see action in the house after dark was also shut down. According to Reifman, without paying a $120 annual fee to once again have access to those elements, the cameras were little more than expensive paperweights.

Canary does offer some features for free still, including 30-second video clips after motion is detected, one day video history, and 24/7 live check-ins. For the full video clips, 30 days of saved footage, and a heap of other features like two-way conversations through the camera, users have to pay a $10 per month fee for Canary membership. Canary has not yet commented publicly about the lawsuit.

Product Review

Gate’s Smart Lock is locked and loaded but ultimately lacks important basics

In a world of video cameras and doorbells comes the Gate Smart Lock, a lock with a video camera embedded. It’s a great idea, but lacks some crucial functionality to make it a top-notch product.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Smart Home

Want a smarter home? Ditch the keys with these great smart locks

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Photography

From 4K powerhouses to tiny action cams, here are the best video cameras

Although not as popular as they once were, dedicated video cameras still have their benefits. From travel vlogging to home movies to recording your kid's little league game, here are the best video cameras you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Gaming

For Netflix, ‘Fortnite’ on YouTube is a bigger threat than HBO

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix explained that it views the video game Fortnite as bigger competition than HBO, with YouTube videos of the game drawing viewers away from the streaming platform.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Computing

AMD Radeon VII will support DLSS-like upscaling developed by Microsoft

AMD's Radeon VII has shown promise with early tests of an open DLSS-like technology developed by Microsoft called DirectML. It would provide similar upscale features, but none of the locks on hardware choice.
Computing

You could be gaming on AMD’s Navi graphics card before the end of the summer

If you're waiting for a new graphics card from AMD that doesn't cost $700, you may have to wait for Navi. But that card may not be far away, with new rumors suggesting we could see a July launch.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.
Gaming

Blizzard’s latest hiring spree is likely for the unannounced ‘Diablo 4’

Activision Blizzard is hiring for more than a dozen positions on unannounced Diablo projects. Some of the roles are likely for the unannounced Diablo 4, the next mainline entry in the series.
Home Theater

Plex is the latest player to contemplate the subscription streaming game

With massive reach thanks to its client app being supported virtually every media device on the planet, Plex is now looking at the future of its media curation platform. A future that may include free and subscription services.