Amazon Has Already Roped 200 Police Departments Into Its Ring Doorbell Surveillance/Promotional Scheme
from the good-work-if-you-can-get-it-and-Amazon-quite-obviously-can dept
If I’ve learned anything from the past 20 years of J-horror remakes, these documents are the last thing Motherboard’s Caroline Haskins will see before she dies.
At least 200 law enforcement agencies around the country have entered into partnerships with Amazon’s home surveillance company Ring, according to an email obtained by Motherboard via public record request.
Ring has never disclosed the exact number of partnerships that it maintains with law enforcement. However, the company has partnered with at least 200 law enforcement agencies, according to notes taken by a police officer during a Ring webinar, which he emailed to himself in April. It’s possible that the number of partnerships has changed since the day the email was sent.
Amazon is slowly but steadily building a surveillance network. It’s not just building it for itself. It has Alexa for that. It’s building a new one for US law enforcement agencies, free of charge, in exchange for free promotion and future long-term buy-in.
Ring’s doorbell cameras are a consumer device, but many, many people are getting them for free from local PDs. The incentives work for everyone… except for those concerned about a private company turning people’s houses into de facto police cameras. The police hand out the free cameras to citizens, implicitly suggesting end users could repay their debt to um… society[??] by providing camera footage on demand. Amazon gives these cameras to PDs for next to nothing, asking only that PDs promote Ring cameras and push camera recipients into downloading Amazon’s snitch app, Neighbors.
Two hundred law enforcement agencies is a drop in the S3 bucket, considering there’s almost 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States. But every market starts somewhere, and Amazon is aggressively pursuing this untapped arena with free doorbell cameras, a free law enforcement surveillance portal, and a bunch of incentives that skew heavily in favor of the watchers. Sooner or later, the other Amazon marketing push — facial recognition — will get folded in, giving cops the chance to determine who you’re hanging out with by using your own doorbell against you.
If you would like a chance to die within seven days of reading them, Motherboard has posted its public records stash here. It adds to the wealth of information showing Amazon is steadily pursuing non-paying customers — so long as they exhibit a bit of brand loyalty. Its paying customers — the millions of Prime members — are now just sting fodder to be used in a never-ending string of disappointing anti-package theft operations.
But Amazon’s willingness to tie government agencies into contracts that demand final cut approval on press releases and a certain amount of free publicity blurs the line between public and private. That blurred line, unfortunately, runs right up to the doorsteps of suburban America, converting personal security into police surveillance.