Amazon statements on privacy do not address growing privacy and civil liberties concerns surrounding controversial Ring-police partnershipsToday, Amazon held their annual product launch amid growing concerns about the company’s internal privacy practices, as well as controversial surveillance partnerships between Amazon Ring and local police departments.Amazon announced “Home Mode” feature for its Ring doorbells. The feature is intended to prevent Ring from recording audio or video footage when residents are home. Of course this does nothing to address the privacy and civil liberties concerns of Ring doorbells recording their neighbors or their neighbor’s children without their knowledge or consent.“We can’t trust Amazon when it comes to privacy. Amazon claims “customers control their data” yet they had plans for 911 calls to trigger all Ring cameras in the surrounding neighborhood to wake up and start recording. This is what Amazon does. They make empty statements to sell their products and then continue to build a for-profit, surveillance dragnet without oversight and accountability,” says Evan Greer, deputy director of digital rights group Fight for the Future.
Amazon-Ring has entered into partnerships with police departments in over 400 cities, most of the were entered into without any debate or approval from local elected officials or the community. These partnerships provide an end run around the democratic process and pose serious privacy and civil liberties threats. Amazon gives police a warrantless process for requesting and storing unlimited footage, giving them a literal eye inside residents’ homes and the surrounding area, and in exchange, the police department markets Amazon’s surveillance technology. US Senator Ed Markey sent a letter to Jeff Bezos asking questions about the partnerships, and even The Monitoring Association, a security industry trade association, issued a statement expressing concern. Fight for the Future has launched a national campaign calling on local elected officials to cancel police departments’ existing partnerships with Amazon Ring and enact policies to prevent them from doing so in the future.