Civil rights groups double down on MGM to cancel Ring Nation in the wake of vigilante violence

December 13, 2022

Today, 40 privacy advocacy, racial justice, and civil rights organizations released a letter demanding Barry Poznick, President of MGM Unscripted Television, not renew Ring Nation for subsequent seasons.

Led by MediaJustice and Fight for the Future, the letter comes on the heels of an alarming Ring-related shooting in Florida. “Last month, a man and his teenage son shot and almost killed a woman sitting in her car, an incident prompted by a Ring camera alert. This situation exemplifies the kind of vigilante violence civil rights groups warn will continue to escalate. Ring devices, and the accompanying Neighbors app, encourage people to self-police their neighborhoods and surveil their neighbors and bystanders. By gamifying discriminatory vigilantism, Amazon recruits and engages Ring customers through paranoia and fear,” the letter reads.

Signed by Media Justice, Fight for the Future, Access Now, Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE), Aspiration, Athena Coalition, California LGBT Arts Alliance, Center on Race and Digital Justice, Demos, Detroit Community Technology Project, Dignity and Power NOW, Envision Freedom Fund, For Us Not Amazon Coalition, FREE! Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment, Generation Justice, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Jobs With Justice, Just Futures Law, La ColectiVA, Main Street Alliance, May First Movement Technology, Media Alliance, Mijente, MPower Change, Muslim Counterpublics Lab, New York Communities for Change, Oakland Privacy, OLE, PhillyCAM, Progressive Technology Project, Secure Justice, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, SURJ Northern Virginia, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Surveillance, Tech, & Immigration, Policing Project at the Immigrant Defense Project, United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, United We Dream, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, Warehouse Worker Resource Center, and WITNESS.

The letter highlights the potential for more Ring-enabled vigilante violence now that states are passing “vigilante laws” to deputize civilians to surveil and police abortion seekers and providers. “These laws empower the very civilian investigation and policing that instigates violence. And now, it’s even worse. People will not only use Ring cameras to surveil their communities, they’re encouraged to use Ring to scrutinize and punish abortion patients as well as those who support them. Ring-fueled violence extends beyond vigilantism.” 

The letter goes on to draw a parallel between the former MGM show Live PD and Ring Nation. “‘Live PD was canceled after filming a police incident that led to the death of a 40 year old man. Before that senseless murder, racial justice and civil rights group had been warning about the harms of promoting violent police tactics, militarized policing, and racial profiling…Today, a broad coalition of racial justice and human rights groups are sounding the alarm again. Ring Nation promotes dangerous Ring surveillance cameras that fuel racist, violent policing, fear and paranoia in our communities, and vigilante violence. Hopefully, it won’t take more people being killed for you to listen and cancel this show.”

The organizations end the letter by calling on MGM “to not renew this harmful TV show for a second season—cancel Ring Nation for good.” Read the full letter here.

Signing organizations issued the following statements:

This statement can be attributed to Danny Cendejas (he/him), Field Organizer at MediaJustice: “Our communities across the country are clear: Amazon-owned MGM must cancel Ring Nation. From mass partnerships with law enforcement agencies to violence and death precipitated by Ring surveillance, Amazon Ring’s track record is endangering Black and brown communities. No matter how MGM and Ring try to spin Ring Nation, racist, violent surveillance will never be funny. We demand the right to live without being watched and criminalized for our everyday daily activities like dropping off a package, moving throughout neighborhoods or seeking healthcare.”

This statement can be attributed to Evan Greer (she/they), Director of Fight for the Future:
“MGM can’t continue to ignore how Ring surveillance leads to violence. We’ve now seen a couple of shootings prompted by Ring, and with states deputizing everyday people to surveil their neighbors, these incidents of Ring-related violence will become more commonplace. It took a murder for MGM-produced Live PD to be canceled. Hopefully, it doesn’t take the same thing happening to cancel Ring Nation. People shouldn’t have to die, be falsely incriminated, or shot at for MGM to realize how dangerous Ring is and cancel a show like Ring Nation that recklessly promotes dangerous surveillance.”