SAY WHAT? AMAZON MADE A PRIVATE DEAL WITH LOCAL POLICE TO SPY USING YOUR DOOR CAM?
As Mr. Fenster once said, “What the faaa?” This is seriously depressing news. But I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised. Yet I am, somehow, with this news. Retail giant Amazon has been making secret deals across the United States with local police. So what’s the deal? Amazon gives the police secret backdoor access to their Ring surveillance doorbells. The police then give Amazon free advertising, while keeping the agreement secret. Oh, and Amazon gave police free Ring cameras, too. But if you’re shaking your head right now, but thinking “so what’s the big deal?” Well, you won’t have to think too hard for long to understand why.
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AMAZON’S RING SURVEILLANCE DOOR CAM STREAMS EVERYTHING IT SEES, ALL THE TIME
So here’s the thing. You buy a Ring surveillance doorbell from Amazon. So that means there’s a constant video stream outside your door. The feed is managed by Amazon. But then Amazon gives local police access to your home’s front door video feed without your permission. And also without your awareness. That means police have a record of your comings and goings, everyone who stops buy, every delivery, etc. Think about that. That’s your product that you bought. The surveillance feed is a part of that purchase. And Amazon has been giving your data, your privacy, to police in a secret business deal.
POLICE GIVE AMAZON SECRET, FREE ADVERTISING, GET SECRET ACCESS TO YOUR DOOR CAM, FREE PRODUCTS
See? When you look at it that way, it’s pretty disappointing, even appalling. But there’s even more. If you aren’t familiar with Ring, you also aren’t familiar with Neighborhood. Neighborhood is the associated surveillance tool for Ring owners. One of the cool things it can do is allow several Ring users who live nearby to create their own street surveillance. Get it? Say you have five out of 8 houses on a single block with Ring and an associated Neighborhood setup. Every single car, person, dog, squirrel and leaf flying by each camera is recorded. Do you want your local police to access that without your knowledge, your permission.
Ok, maybe police receive permission. That’s not clear. What is clear is that police can see who has a Ring doorbell and where they live. They can then “informally” request permission from Ring owners, thru the app, to their feed. But it’s not clear they really need it.