Today, prominent national human rights organizations Fight for the Future, Media Justice, Daily Kos, Better Organizing to Win Legalization, La ColectiVA, Media Alliance, MPower Change, Muslim Counterpublics Lab, Progress America, and TakeItBack.Org delivered 69,500+ petition signatures to Amazon-owned MGM, calling on the company to cancel the Ring Nation reality TV series, while activists hung a ‘Cancel Ring Nation’ banner at the glitzy MGM National Harbor Hotel, which hosts celebrities from Bruno Mars to Sarah Jessica Parker.
These escalations come on the heels of 40 racial justice and civil rights organizations releasing an open letter calling on Mark Burnett, Chairman of MGM Television, and Barry Poznick, President of MGM Unscripted Television, to cancelRing Nation. The letter was signed by organizations including Fight for the Future, Media Justice, Athena, Center for Race and Digital Justice, and WITNESS.
Co-signed by over 69,500 people, the petition highlights dire concerns raised about Ring Nation over the past month, reading in part: “Ring surveillance cameras pose a direct threat to our privacy, and Ring’s partnerships with the police subvert our Fourth Amendment rights. Millions of people—including users, their families, and casual bystanders—are surveilled daily by Ring cameras. Our whereabouts are tracked. The things we do and say are recorded. This amassed data can be shared with local police departments and their partners in government agencies. Given concerns around racist policing and the criminalization of abortion, the stakes for communities of colors and pregnant people are high.”
The petition ends by calling on MGM to cancel Ring Nation and noting “it’s irresponsible for MGM to promote dangerous surveillance devices, like Ring, as family-friendly. Ring is not safe for families or anyone else.” Read the full petition here.
The following organizations and people have issued statements:
This statement can be attributed to Tina Brown (she/her), former Amazon worker and sister of Poushawn Brown, who died due to Amazon’s negligence:
“Amazon has caused so much harm in our communities across the country and to families like mine—we lost my sister, Poushawn Brown, because of Amazon’s terrible COVID-19 practices. Amazon is a dangerous corporation. They do not care about people, and they especially do not care about their employees. All they care about is the bottom line, and the data and metrics they need to gain more money and more power. People’s bodies and lives have been routinely destroyed by Amazon. It’s insulting and disturbing that now they’ll have a tv show putting a happy face on all that pain.”
This statement can be attributed to Evan Greer (she/they), Director of Fight for the Future:
“Amazon owns Ring, Big Fish Entertainment, and MGM, and it’s doing what Amazon has always done when the harm it does is called out: nothing. It’s time to shine more light on Amazon’s seriously disturbing surveillance-entertainment cabal. One of the most powerful corporations in the world has spent the past few years acquiring more companies like Ring to extend its reach into our homes and now it’s buying the media companies to tell us it’s okay. As civil rights, human rights, and digital rights experts we want to be incredibly clear that this is not okay.
This month’s actions from 40 organizations and 69,500+ petition signers are just a start. We are committed to making MGM’s choice to normalize a dangerous mass surveillance network that threatens our privacy rights and communities of color incredibly painful. The long term potential impact of Ring Nation is horrifying. Now more than ever, we need companies to act in the interest of human rights and safety. MGM still has time to be on the correct side of history by canceling Ring Nation.”
This statement can be attributed to Dorothy He, Communications Director at Daily Kos:
“The effect popular media has on Americans’ perception of what is socially acceptable is undeniable. It is clear that through Ring Nation, Amazon is hoping to utilize entertainment as a tool of propaganda to subvert our Fourth Amendment rights and normalize the erosion of our privacy. Daily Kos calls on MGM Studios to prioritize Americans’ right to privacy and reject being used as a pawn in a surveillance state by canceling Ring Nation.”
This statement can be attributed to Myaisha Hayes (she/her), Campaign Strategy Director at Media Justice:
“Amazon is taking the powerful PR machine it has always used to normalize its racist surveillance technology to a whole new level with Ring Nation. The tech titan has repeatedly used racist stereotypes to stoke fear about crime in order to sell more Ring cameras. But what Amazon never wants to talk about is their private surveillance partnerships with the police—which include giving Ring footage to the police without the customer’s consent. It seems that buying MGM studios was as much about propaganda as entertainment for Amazon, since they’re using their acquisition to mock those harmed by Ring cameras with a show aimed to erase their experiences and normalize dangerous surveillance. Not only will we continue to demand an end to Ring’s surveillance partnerships with the police, we will also fight to stop Amazon from spewing fountains of disrespectful propaganda to hide the fact that Ring jeopardizes our safety by design.”