AMAZON-OWNED smart security firm Ring recently launched a partnership programme with 200 police forces in the US.
It offers the ‘opportunity' to share your camera footage with police in an attempt to crowdsource monitoring and, so the theory goes, reduce neighbourhood crime.
The big problem with letting the police have access to your footage is that you're letting the actual police have access to your footage, with no warrant, and understandably, there's a certain amount of reticence to opting in.
But that's not going to stop Ring, oh no-siree-bob. According to Motherboard, a number of documents have been uncovered which give the Hot Fuzz tips on how to talk Ring owners round.
"I have noticed you have been posting alerts and receiving feedback from the community," a Ring operative told police in Bloomfield, NJ. "You are doing a great job interacting with them and that will be critical in increasing the opt-in rate."
"The more users you have, the more useful the information you can collect," he burbled.
It's alarming (arf) at the very least for users, as parent company Amazon can now release Ring footage directly to cops without a warrant. It has also been accused of ghostwriting police documentation on the service, turning local forces into free advertising and implied an endorsement for its products. Users can even gain discounts on Ring products if they opt-in, with police forces managing a reward system.
Ring defends itself in a statement: "Ring objects to over-broad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."
However, it still means that entire neighbourhoods are gaining CCTV surveillance, with non-Ring customers probably never knowing they are being watched. A Ring Law Enforcement Neighbourhoods Portal is offered to participating forces to pool their knowledge and footage.
One of the top pieces of advice offered is that local forces use social media to increase opt-in rates.
An early version of this technology used to exist in the main Ring app, but has now been moved to a separate "Neighbourhoods" app to increase the feature set.
Privacy advocates have warned that the whole scheme is a privacy nightmare, and who are we to disagree. In fact, we're feeling a bit dirty after writing this piece. It's all a bit Black Mirror suddenly, isn't it? μ
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