PRIVACY CAMPAIGNERS FROM Fight for the Future have set up a petition, demanding mayors and officials step in to block a partnership between Amazon and the police.
A Motherboard Freedom of Information request revealed that Amazon has partnered with at least 200 law enforcement agencies, providing footage from Ring doorbells - the video-equipped doohickeys that tell you exactly who's at the door - so you can decide whether it's worth putting your trousers on or not.
Defending the deal to the BBC, a Ring spokesperson said: "Law enforcement can only submit video requests to users in a given area when investigating an active case. Ring facilitates these requests and user consent is required in order for any footage or information to be shared with law enforcement."
That, unsurprisingly, is not enough reassurance for privacy groups: "If a police department wanted to install surveillance cameras on all of our front doors, they would have to get permission from elected officials and the public," the petition says. "Amazon has found the perfect end-run around the democratic process.
"But mayors and city officials have the power to stop police from entering into these partnerships, which is why we are calling on local elected officials to ban and stop these deceptive partnerships."
It's not the first time Amazon's Ring subdivision has alarmed privacy campaigners. Earlier this year, it emerged that in its pre-Amazon days, certain employees could tap into any camera as long as they knew the owner's email address. The same sources revealed that the company would occasionally use footage from peoples' homes to manually tag objects in an effort to teach the AI to understand the environment better.
In a ridiculously-long statement given to INQ, Amazon says it takes "the privacy and security of our customers extremely seriously", adding that: "Ring recordings are sourced exclusively from publicly shared Ring videos from the Neighbors app (in accordance with our terms of service), and from a small fraction of Ring users who have provided their explicit written consent to allow us to access and utilize their videos for such purposes."
"Ring employees do not have access to livestreams from Ring products. We have strict policies in place for all our team members. We implement systems to restrict and audit access to information. We hold our team members to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our policies faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties," the spokesperson continued.
"In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behaviour, we will take swift action against them." µ
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