Now, our worst fears have been confirmed. Police in Jackson, Mississippi, have started a pilot program that would allow Ring owners to patch the camera streams from their front doors directly to a police Real Time Crime Center. The footage from your front door includes you coming and going from your house, your neighbors taking out the trash, and the dog walkers and delivery people who do their jobs in your street. In Jackson, this footage can now be live streamed directly onto a dozen monitors scrutinized by police around the clock. Even if you refuse to allow your footage to be used that way, your neighbor’s camera pointed at your house may still be transmitting directly to the police. Only a few months ago, Jackson stood up for its residents, becoming the first city in the southern United States to ban police use of face recognition technology. Clearly, this is a city that understands invasive surveillance technology when it sees it, and knows when police have overstepped their ability to invade privacy.
The Surveillance State Is Here and Now
If police want to build a surveillance camera network, they should only do so in ways that are transparent and accountable, and ensure active resident participation in the process. If residents say “no” to spy cameras, then police must not deploy them. The choices you and your neighbors make as consumers should not be hijacked by police to roll out surveillance technologies. The decision making process must be left to communities.