New tech doorbells have cameras, and that's an ethics problem
This. Marketplace podcast is brought to you by the university of Florida Warrington college of business transform your future with an MBA from one of America's top ten universities. Learn more at Warrington dot ufl dot EDU slash MBA. Spying on your neighbors. Maybe isn't all that neighborly turns out from American public media. This is marketplace tech demystifying the digital economy. I'm Molly would. Internet-connected doorbells with cameras built in are becoming very popular. Amazon owned ring is the best known product Google also has the nest. Hello, but the phenomenon of doorbell video has privacy experts worried about the potential for misuse and abuse of these home surveillance devices by people who are shaming each other or labeling other people as suspicious, and by the companies who might have access to video at a level. That customers aren't aware of Laura Noreen used to teach data science ethics at NYU. Now, she's director of research at obsidian security. She says part of the problem is that owners of video doorbells are filming a lot more territory than the terms of service say they should it puts a lot of the onus on the person who installs the camera. And I think a lot of the people who own these cameras are not aware that they're not allowed to point them at the public street or into their neighbors yards. And I happen to be on. The ring platform myself as user, and I can see that people are violating that particular point of the terms and service agreement left, and right, and it leads to a lot of kind of community policing that might not be exactly fair or just and then what access does ring or Amazon have to the videos that are filmed on these cameras. Yes. So ring is pretty clear. It's terms and conditions that people are allowing employees to access videos, not live streams, but cash videos and in order to train the artificial intelligence to be better at recognizing neighbors because they're trying to roll out a feature where they use fischel recognition to match with the people that are considered safe. So if I have the ring cameras, I can say all these are safe people. Here's pictures of my kids, my neighbors, if it's not one of these people, consider them unsafe. So that's a new technology. They need to be able to train their algorithms to recognize who's the person what's a car. What's a cat? Some. Subset of the videos that are being uploaded. Just for typical usage are then being shared with research team in the Ukraine, and then in terms of the sort of overall legal framework for consent, you know, whether it's the terms of service the ability to opt out the ability to not be filmed by my neighbor when I'm on the street, if feels like our legal framework is nowhere near able to deal with this sort of like self surveillance on a mass scale that we seem to be moving toward. No, we really have a very version one point oh understanding of consent procedures. But I think as it's framed now one company taking a fairly substantial amount of profit from a system where most of the people ending up on the app. I'm imagining are not the owners of the cameras the people benefiting from the service and the people profiting from the service aren't the ones who are sacrificing their privacy. So there's a big disjuncture there. We don't have consent procedures that work at the group level. Laura Noreen is. Rector of research at obsidian security, the intercept and the information reported recently on rings Ukrainian research teams and their access to customer videos. Ring told us only a small number of employees can see videos and only with explicit consent. And now for some related links last month privacy experts at the ACLU sounded the alarm about an Amazon patent application that would combine doorbell video with facial recognition technology, and then match people who come to your door with a database of suspicious people, and you could even upload photos of people you think are suspicious what could go wrong now. This is kind of what rings neighbors app already does. But not quite as automatically. The story is utter website. Marketplace tech dot org along with the story from C net about neighbors, and how it's become a sort of other next door where most of the posts are videos taken from doorbells and security cameras. Just this week. The city of Houston said it will partner with ring to use the neighbors app for real time safety alerts and to monitor for crimes now not for nothing. Laura Noreen pointed out in our interview that one of the things all these posts and camera. Do is make us think there's a lot more crime than there actually is crime rates in most of the US are historically low and have been dropping for years, but then again fear cells can doorbells in other bummer privacy news this week. Kate O'Neill wrote a piece in wired about the meme that's going around Facebook right now where people are posting profile pictures of themselves ten years ago. And today, she speculates that realistically the mean was probably thought up by Facebook as an easy way to collect some time stamped photos to help train its facial recognition algorithms now to be clear, we have no idea if that's true or not remember the same time last year when there was that fun Google arts and culture app. The let you match your face to famous portraits in the art world. And then everyone was like this is probably a facial recognition training tool. Google said at the time that it was not using southeast for anything other than art matching. But it does tell you that people are getting a little more suspicious about the steady March of technology. It also tells you that. This is why we can't have fun things. I'm Ali would. And that's marketplace tech. This is APN. This marketplace podcast is brought to you by. Indeed when it comes to hiring. You don't have time to waste you need help getting your shortlist of qualified candidates fast. 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