FBI Horrified To Discover Ring Doorbells Can Tip Off Citizens To The Presence Of Federal Officers At Their Door
from the those-bastards-and-their-surreptitious-cameras dept
Ring’s camera/doorbells may as well be branded with local law enforcement agency logos. Since Amazon acquired the company, Ring has cornered the law enforcement-adjacent market for home security products, partnering with hundreds of agencies to get Ring’s products into the hands of residents. A lot of this flows directly through police departments, which can get them almost for free as long as they push citizens towards using Ring’s snitch app, Neighbors, and allow Ring to handle the PR work.
So, it’s hilarious to find out the FBI is concerned about Ring cameras, considering the company’s unabashed love for all things law enforcement. The Intercept — diving back into the “Blue Leaks” stash of exfiltrated law enforcement documents — has posted an FBI “Technical Analysis Bulletin” [PDF] warning cops about the threat Ring cameras pose to cops. After celebrating the golden age of surveillance the Internet of Things has ushered in, the FBI notes that doorbell cameras see everyone who comes to someone’s door — even if it’s people who’d rather the absent resident remained unaware of.
The document describes a 2017 incident in which FBI agents approached a New Orleans home to serve a search warrant and were caught on video. “Through the Wi-Fi doorbell system, the subject of the warrant remotely viewed the activity at his residence from another location and contacted his neighbor and landlord regarding the FBI’s presence there,” it states.
Ratted out by home security tech — the kind often pushed on residents by law enforcement officers hoping to expand their surveillance networks by deputizing doorbells. Ring’s cameras aren’t just mute witnesses. Owners receive notifications when someone comes to their door and, depending on model, are able to hold conversations with them using built-in mics and speakers.
This means the sneak-and-peek feds might have been overhead discussing their tactical plans or specifics about the investigation. Hilarious. And this is how another FBI document on the subject of doorbells puts it, turning a normal home security device into a devious tool to be wielded against law enforcement:
“[S]ubject was able to see and hear everything happening at his residence” and possibly “covertly monitor law enforcement activity while law enforcement was on the premises…”
Covert monitoring is the best monitoring, as these FBI agents are well-aware. Sucks when it’s the alleged perps doing the covert monitoring, I guess. And it sucks when the FBI decides now is the time to be hot and bothered when security cameras have been catching cops visiting/raiding properties for years. Audio recording isn’t some new technology either, so if cops haven’t been clued into this possibility already, they have no one to blame but themselves.
The documents are fascinating, and not just because they appear to turn Ring into a co-conspirator in crimes after so many years of being besties with law enforcement. It also shows how much goes unnoticed by people who routinely cite their years of training and experience when applying for search warrants. This should have been obvious from day one.