Canary claws back cloud features from its IoT camera, starts charging $10/month

Canary makes an Internet of Things home security camera that connects to your wifi and sends video to Canary's servers where it is analyzed for suspicious activity (such as motion when you're out of the house) and then you can stream video that video over the internet.

I'm incredibly suspicious of this model, because it only works if anyone who hacks Canary (or any unscrupulous Canary employee, or any government that serves a warrant on Canary) can spy on you in your own home without your knowledge.

But leaving aside the privacy implications, Canary is also an example of how IoT and cloud computing are terrible for the people who buy into them. Canary is not doing well and needs more money, so it's just announced that a bunch of the features that you were promised when you bought your Canary are no longer available, unless you pay the company $10/month.

Just another timely reminder that the "cloud" doesn't exist, it's just a bunch of computers that belong to someone else and that you can't really trust.

It's also a timely reminder of how DRM and the IoT work together. In theory, a Canary competitor could swoop in and restore the free services at a lower price (because they wouldn't have to pay Canary's development and manufacturing costs) by means of an alternative firmware for the cameras; but it's a near-certainty that there is some kind of DRM to prevent this, which means that offering such a product -- no different in theory from offering third-party doors for Ikea furniture, or third-party shelves to reconfigure a fridge to your liking -- is magically transformed into a felony punishable by a 5 year prison sentence and $500,000 in fines for a first offence, because everything is a felony if you have to break DRM to do it.


Under the new terms, non-paying users will no longer be able to freely access night mode on their cameras nor will they be able to record video for later viewing. Night mode is a feature that lets you set a schedule for your Canary camera to monitor your home while you sleep without sending notifications.

On top of that, all the videos the company previously recorded for free will be converted into 10-second clips called "video previews." Essentially, important features are being taken away from users unless they're willing to pay $9.99 a month.


Canary is charging for services that used to be free, and everyone is mad
[Ashley Carman/The Verge]

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