Amazon admits it has enacted zero civil liberties protections as part of surveillance doorbell partnerships

Posted November 20, 2019, 3:41 PM

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20th, 2019
CONTACT: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefure.org


Amazon has confirmed that civil rights organizations were correct about the threats Ring technology and police partnerships pose to privacy and civil liberties in statements to U.S. Senator Edward Markey.

Yesterday, Senator Markey released disturbing findings from his investigation into Amazon Ring. His findings reveal Amazon fails to provide any meaningful safeguards to protect data, privacy, or civil liberties. With over 600 partnerships across the country, millions of Americans are being swept up in captured video footage without any knowledge of the threats. And now Amazon openly admits that it has enacted no policies or oversight to protect them. They are completely vulnerable to the whims of whoever gains access to surveillance footage whether it be Amazon employees, police departments, or hackers taking advantage of Amazon’s lax security protections.

“Amazon plays on people’s fears to sell them surveillance products, and then turns around and puts them and their neighbors in danger,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. “Through consumer products like Ring, Amazon is collecting footage and all the data needed to build a nationwide surveillance network. They leverage government relationships to promote their own products, gain consumer trust and secure their position in the market. This is an unprecedented assault on our security, constitutionally protected rights, and communities. Amazon’s admissions to Senator Markey show that we need an immediate full scale Congressional investigation into this tech titan’s surveillance practices.”  

Some of the most important findings in Sen. Markey’s investigation:

  • Once footage is collected, police departments are free to store indefinitely and share with any 3rd party they choose.
  • No compliance mechanisms in place to prevent users from collecting video footage of neighbors, bystanders, or surrounding neighborhood.
  • No evidentiary standard for police departments to request footage. They only need a case number to request surveillance en masse. Their request spans video footage within a radius of .5 miles in 12 hours segments up to 45 days old.
  • Ring using facial recognition technology and selling users’ biometric data are both inevitable as market demand for them increases. 
  • No security requirements in place to protect user data once police gain access to footage.

“Amazon Ring’s policies are an open door for privacy and civil liberty violations. If you’re an adult walking your dog or a child playing on the sidewalk, you shouldn’t have to worry that Ring’s products are amassing footage of you and that law enforcement may hold that footage indefinitely or share that footage with any third parties,” said Senator Markey. “Amazon is not doing enough to ensure that its products and practices do not run afoul of our civil liberties.”

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