For years now, privacy rights activists have been calling for the restriction of government security cameras in residential neighborhoods.
That scenario has been overtaken by the proliferation of private surveillance cameras in the form of smart doorbells, like Amazon’s Ring. Given Ring’s explosive popularity, their usage in so many homes has now essentially created a private surveillance network across the country.
According to cnet:
Aware of this network, police departments across the country have offered free or discounted Ring doorbells to citizens, sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for Amazon’s products. While Ring owners are supposed to have a choice on providing police footage, in some giveaways, police require recipients to turn over footage when requested.
Ring said that it would start cracking down on those strings attached.
“Ring customers are in control of their videos, when they decide to share them and whether or not they want to purchase a recording plan. Ring has donated devices to Neighbor’s Law Enforcement partners for them to provide to members of their communities,” Ring said in a statement. “Ring does not support programs that require recipients to subscribe to a recording plan or that footage from Ring devices be shared as a condition for receiving a donated device. We are actively working with partners to ensure this is reflected in their programs.”
While more surveillance footage in neighborhoods could help police investigate crimes, the sheer number of cameras run by Amazon’s Ring business raises questions about privacy involving both law enforcement and tech giants.
Police can gather more video footage, while Amazon can charge new Ring owners up to $3 a month for subscription fees on the smart doorbells. Residents, meanwhile, get some peace of mind,, essentially a social network sharing camera feeds.
More than 50 local police departments across the US have partnered with Ring over the last two years, lauding how the Amazon-owned product allows them to access security footage in areas that typically don’t have cameras — on suburban doorsteps.
We ask, security at what price?
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.