Listen: Amazon, Matthew Corellia And The Washington Post discussed on Law and Disorder
"Law enforcement partnerships more than four hundred police departments across the nation have already joined forces with the tech giant's so called smart doorbell program ring. Amazon's outreach strategy in gaining new police partners is to play on fears of increasing property crime. weighing doesn't just show you who's at your door it films and records any movement within the local vicinity. it films and records any movement or interaction in the vicinity and then alerts users phones with partnerships between corporations and law enforcement to use new surveillance systems in the public leaving out community input the couple host of civil liberty concerns including racial profiling. joining us to discuss this growing partnership between a mega company in American law enforcement is Matthew Corellia of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Matthew was a policy analyst working on surveillance and privacy at the local state and federal level he is a frequent contributor to the freedom of information centered outlet mock rock it is by lines have appeared in The Washington Post and mother board Matthew welcome to law and disorder thank you. Matthew what is Amazon's of ringing and when we first started hearing about it. well Amazons ring is a smart doorbell camera that people won't solve their front doors and it brings your phone whenever it senses mode movement motion or whatever somebody rings their doorbell and you get a little a little notification on your phone that allows you to peer through your own ring camera the company has been around for a few years but it didn't really expand start spending quickly and how it was acquired by Amazon in twenty eighteen. now in one of the pieces that you've written you've called rings partnership with US law enforcement. what a perfect storm of surveillance tell us how bad is. well the partnership with police is problematic in a number of ways because it what it is actually has created a date CCTV network that while it doesn't belong to the government doesn't belong to municipalities it belongs essentially to Amazon who are doing everything they can to cooperate with police and make it as easy for them to acquire footage from your doorbell camera without a warrant as possible. and we want to talk about that in a minute but first we understand. Amazon has an aggressive outreach campaign to police department sometimes offering incentives I understand can you explain how the company is marketing this to police that's a very good question it it's very aggressive that you've mentioned we know that some tactics have included in the past like going to a large international police conferences and hosting parties there we were police chiefs will come and leave with three free ring cameras moquette free alcohol and and you know dance the night away with representatives of ring but the other operation of that is very aggressive marketing so you've seen in emails back and forth between ring and police departments through freedom of information act requests in the reporting on this this show that reading represents follow up with police departments very diligently and they offer them things like so for instance or whatever they kind of tenants of these ring partnerships is municipalities will pay a lot of money to ring I've seen anywhere between twenty five thousand a hundred thousand dollars in exchange for that money ring can offer cameras to city residents for a subsidized price. so they they aggressively market them they offer them subside cameras for municipality but they also offer them you know surveillance about where they're offering them is a a police interface to the ring system that allows them to request the footage of ring users incredibly easy with just the tap of a button and so if you if you have or are ringing the doorbell camera your front door what it looks like in an email or notification on your phone saying your local police department requests the footage between this hour in this hour would you like to give it to them and there's no no but in in order to not give your footage a police you just have to ignore the message which kind of gives the illusion one that if you don't do it you're being a bad citizen which are absolutely not went to that you kind of don't have a choice so all of these incentives make police departments much more willing to work with Amazon to try to push a ring in their own city okay and I think what you've just mentioned about the silent pressure for people to turn over the video is really the crux of what we want to talk about I want to clarify first is ring so called law enforcement neighborhood portal napping interface is that related to what you were just saying about getting requests from law enforcement to turn over video. yeah part of the the police it interface with the ring is you know there's been a bit of conflicting to port reporting on this but from what I understand whether knowledge created by the police department themselves or handed over to them by Amazon new you know added by virtue of you signing up for ring have to give your address and so they can map it. least have many police departments have maps or they can see where ring cameras are in their city and so requesting that cameras as simple as you know swiping through a map seeing the camera that you wanted to get footage from and clicking on that camera and requesting the footage so part of this kind of big network of surveillance is also geographical. this is the footage stored in the cloud out. yes so Amazon has the footage when you're you know when you read the terms of service you'll see that while you have access to that put it you can share it to your own social networks which they encourage you to do through the ring interface the ring app. the forty age is very clearly owned owned but is controlled by Amazon in the sense that is stored on their cloud for six weeks before its deleted and in the terms of service you can read that they can pretty much do anything they want with that footage taken user for promotional materials which they have done they can alter in any way they can use it for a lot more purposes they just store it for you. no ma'am. let's pose a hypothetical before Michael chimes in here. if a police officer if a police department wants to monitor particular individual. what's to prevent them and they know that person has a ring what's to prevent them from going to Amazon and saying please do not delete the footage of Jane doe after the six week period. unless the police department has a warrant I'm not sure how that would work but the but the thing about these ring partnerships is the police wanted to monitor a specific person with the ring camera there are a lot of ways they could get around doing it than just going to end until one way would be to get a war and to go to Amazon for their footage you know it's really unclear at this point whether Amazon has to inform you as an owner of a rain camera whether or not police have come directly to them with the war and are by patching you entirely because in many instances he believes could have approached you asked for footage and if you say no they can just get a war and go straight to Amazon and in that case even though you refuse the police they end up with your foot anyway you might not even know. or any other way they can do is just by asking you directly they can say listen you get a notification well we need your footage for a case will you please share it with us and and you could do that he radically on knowing that the case they are working on is is an investigation of you yourself that's interesting so do these are people who purchase reading what do they think they're getting and do they have to pay a monthly fee for this. the ring cameras themselves cost you know between like a hundred fifty or two hundred fifty dollars or something and I think there is a a monthly fee associated with it but not everyone has to pay I'm not sure how the economics of it work out I mean we know that how they make their money and ring is by selling as many cameras as possible but what people think they're getting is peace of mind people you know even though research you know shows that that. crime rates are down for in most parts of the country that fear of crime is on the rise and so what people think they're getting peace of mind they're installing a security camera on their front door with they're actually kind of getting is the opposite because every time you know delivery man comes to your front door every time a dog Walker walks by you get a notification on your phone because there's a motion at your house suddenly it seems like your house is under siege. what people really think they're getting is is peace of mind is a little bit of security for their front stoop but in actuality they're getting a lot of a lot of paranoia and with there are not thinking about is how all these cameras are are networked together you're not just watching your own porch you're helping police an Amazon watch every porch in your neighborhood so do gas Sir delivery people or others know that they're being recorded. she that's a good question I mean some people I think have little signs like people would with traditional security systems saying this home is watch do you know if he you're on the security camera but until rings become more ubiquitous and people recognize them as as security cameras eight to a question of whether or not a person approaching a porch no is there being felt and this brings a lot of you know troubling questions for not just for for privacy in your neighborhood but for things like democracy in general I mean I don't know how willing some people would be to go door to door canvassing for the political candidate their choice if they know that that that interaction is being recorded I could be share to Facebook with the click of a button. Matt you mention freedom of information act request earlier and I wondered if it's true. that local governments or police. I have to run any public comments that they might wanna make about ring by Amazon for approval first is that true. yeah I mean this is offered as kind of a perk of the partnership is that you have Amazon and rings communications experts there at your disposal not just for helping you to field questions about the partnership or helping you you know in some places push the adoption of ringing in certain neighborhoods but also help you as a police department get footage from people so they did some of their queue a some of their resources they have a police department is helping you best pitch why a certain resident should share their ring footage with you but the other side of the relationship is that ringing he's he's really strict about the messaging that goes out to the public about ringing from police departments and services through some of these you know released emails we've seen ring actually asked police departments to change press releases that are already out because they don't like some of the certain wording or as one article that kind of a lot of attention a few weeks ago reported Ringwood doesn't like police departments to use the word surveillance when they talk about what these cameras are and what this network is that's fascinating and really troubling to me if this is really in nineteen eighty four scenario map up why should communities care about rank come into their neighborhoods what's at risk here he gets more than what you've already said. yeah I mean there's a there's a lot of things that rich got I mean apart from just the fact that you know a lot of people don't necessarily want to live in a society where they're constantly being you know captured on footage that they have no control over and that the camera owner or Amazon or police have access to that footage all the time the other aspect is located No Way Out on a lot of people are are suddenly frightened that their neighborhoods are much more dangerous than they actually are because they're constantly getting notifications that they you know there's a there's a person in the bushes in front of their house when really who knows if somebody delivering a newspaper that went awry and the other problem with this is it really end up threatening vulnerable communities in a way that. surveillance often does for instance I mean I I think I've called somewhere that. Amazon ring is in some ways a digital superhighway for racial profiling in the sense that if every person you see walk by your ring camera is a potential criminal then a lot of people do you know implicit or or very real bias he's about what type of person looks suspicious come to the surface and be one thing if you could get if you're just you know looking at your own security camera thing that person looks suspicious but when you can certainly share that footage with police when you see that footage with everybody in your neighborhood who's on the neighbors apt suddenly racial profiling get outside and can be exported very very quickly and have real world consequences not are you able to relate the story of the African American real estate agent who was stopped by police. yeah I mean this is a story I do remember he is the explicit details but something like in after American real estate you know doing more realistic age often do which is walking through a neighborhood and you know looking at houses the praising them sing with on the market and somebody who had been in in their house. I had seen this and through their eyes because these apps have conditioned us to see everybody on the street is a potential criminal and through you know obvious racial bias opened up there after they communicate with their neighborhood on and specifically about public safety and crime and and reported what they saw as suspicious as what looked to be a house for later burglary the cops sort of actually call and this can this can have a you know put people in danger who have done absolutely nothing wrong other than taking a stroll through a neighborhood I we're speaking with Matthew growled yeah of the Electronic Frontier Foundation Matthew has been any lawsuits regarding ring brought yet or contemplated. not yet but we were beginning to see a real public push back against not just ring but the type of surveillance that ring brings into neighborhoods so with the rise of of city ordinances banning facial recognition use by by police and governments for instance I think we're gonna start to see a lot more community backlash to these types of partnerships book part of thing that's so nefarious about ring."