For Immediate Release
Press Contact: [email protected]
STATEMENT on Amazon’s announcement to end program allowing law enforcement to request Ring doorbell camera footage from users through its Neighbors app:
“Today Amazon was forced to back down on providing warrantless video access to police departments through its Neighbors app, after tenacious organizing and advocacy of organizations like Fight for the Future, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and MediaJustice. Amazon has quietly built the largest civilian surveillance network in the country by buying competitors, selling devices below cost, making deals with police departments, and boosting sales on the Amazon Marketplace. Despite Amazon backing down on police access to video through Neighbors, we are all under Amazon’s watch as we walk down the street, and we continue to be subjected to law enforcement sidestepping warrant requirements. For years, organizers and activists have fought to beat back the corporation’s covert collusion with the police to violate our rights and civil liberties, and they won’t stop until we end the threat of unbounded surveillance.” stated Ryan Gerety, Director of the Athena Coalition.
“Amazon’s announcement to finally end this feature was the direct result of the mounting criticism, public pressure, and ongoing organizing to keep our communities safe from police violence and corporate surveillance. The police should have never had such easy access to surveil us through Amazon Ring and the Neighbors app. Though this announcement marks progress, the stakes to protect our digital privacy are still too high. When corporations like Amazon are allowed to govern themselves by setting and playing by their own rules, it’s the most vulnerable communities that will continue to suffer the most. Therefore, we won’t stop organizing until we see a complete end to Amazon’s surveillance partnerships with police,” stated Myaisha Hayes, Campaign Strategies Director of MediaJustice.
“Ring shutting down the ‘red carpet’ surveillance portal they offered to police is unquestionably a victory for the coalition of racial justice and human rights advocates that have been calling to end these partnerships for years. The ability for law enforcement to use the Neighbors app to mass-request footage from camera owners was always dangerous, and had a documented effect of exacerbating racial profiling. That said, this move only scratches the surface of addressing the harm done by Ring’s dystopian business model. The rest of their announcement reveals their true ambitions. They envision a world blanketed in cheap, Amazon-made cameras, where people are constantly watching each other and sharing the content, whether it’s a ‘heartwarming moment’ or a violent crime. And the footage these cameras collect will still be available to law enforcement through other avenues, especially in municipalities with camera registries. In the end, we can’t rely on Amazon to safeguard our intimate data and our civil rights. We need laws. Local, state, and Federal elected officials should ban these types of private surveillance partnerships entirely, and should impose strict limits on where homeowners and businesses can place cameras to ensure they are not violating their neighbors privacy and rights,” Evan Greer (she/her/hers), Director of Fight for the Future.