For many, if not most, of us, privacy may seem like a thing of the past. This is especially true the older we are. The younger generations not only don’t have the same experiences of privacy as a norm, but may not even be able to fully conceive it.
Several factors contribute to this, such as increasing government surveillance. Another obvious one is technology, although ironically it may not be as obvious as it should be. This can be a factor which actually contributes to the success of those who benefit from our loss of privacy.
A cozy if not entirely comfortable relationship between commerce and government is nothing new. That is equally true for that special arm of government known as law enforcement. The cop leaning on the small business owner for his weekly cut may make for entertaining television but the real graft may be found higher up the food chain. There are plenty of bad cops, but there are serious systemic problems in policing itself as well as government in general.
One can imagine the gleam in the eye of more than just the sporadic police chief when surveying the powerful technology on display. The mutual benefit of high profits for the corporation and more exciting, cutting-edge tools for the police department creates an irresistible allure. This has gone way beyond police drones.Combine a doorbell with a video camera, and the marketing and financial force of Amazon, which now owns Ring, and we can see where the future is leading. Or, at least where some would like it to lead. Click To Tweet
Ring in Profits, Ring Out Privacy
Combine a doorbell with a video camera, and the marketing and financial force of Amazon, which now owns Ring, and we can see where the future is leading. Or, at least where some would like it to lead. Like Amazon, for obvious reasons. Lots of sales and profit. And police, who can do more “policing.”
Accordingly, it is reported that more than 400 police departments have partnered with Ring. Which may be the tip of the iceberg unless more residents wake up to what is happening in their communities. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has written more than once on this topic. Following are some comments from the latest.
“Ring films and records any interaction or movement happening at the user’s front door, and alerts users’ phones. These partnerships expand the web of government surveillance of public places, degrade the public’s trust in civic institutions, purposely breed paranoia, and deny citizens the transparency necessary to ensure accountability and create regulations.
City Money Subsidizes Cost of Amazon Products
“Reporters have shown that municipalities are paying Amazon up to $100,000 to reduce costs of Ring cameras by $50 or $100 for city residents. In addition, cities are promoting Ring at city events, which helps Amazon sell more cameras and ultimately make more profit.”
There is Insufficient Transparency About Partnerships
“There’s a reason why Amazon was able to build up hundreds of police partnerships before journalists and civil liberties advocates were able to identify the widespread implications of such relationships. Reporting reveals that statements put out by local governments were written by, or approved, by Ring. This means that a large multi-national corporation whose objective is to maximize profits dictates what your local police department can and cannot say about the efficacy or necessity of Ring.”
Police Sell Ring Products
“The Ring-police partnerships turns what should be our most trusted civil servants into salespeople…This raises the very serious question: do police think you need a camera on your front door because your property is in danger, or are they encouraged by Amazon to try to make a sale?”
Amazon’s Experts Coach Police on How to Get Your Footage
“Perhaps most troubling, Amazon coaches police on how to best talk residents into handing over their footage so police don’t have to get a warrant.”
Police Have Your Ring Camera on Their Map
“Police and Amazon know where Ring cameras are in a town through the ‘Neighbors portal’ map interface.”
For more on this, check out Five Concerns about Amazon Ring’s Deals with Police.