Fight for the Future


More than 10,000 people call on Congress to investigate Amazon’s surveillance empire

Posted 08:43 EDT on October 29, 2019

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 29
CONTACT: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefure.org


Digital rights group Fight for the Future has launched a new campaign calling on Congress to investigate Amazon’s surveillance-based business practices, and the rapidly spreading partnerships between it’s doorbell camera company, Ring and local law enforcement. More than 10,000 people have already written to their member of Congress through the campaign.

There has been widespread reporting on the privacy and civil liberties concerns surrounding these Amazon-surveillance partnership, 35+ civil rights groups sign on to open letter calling on elected officials to address them, and some local police departments, like St. Petersburg Police Department, are refusing to enter into these partnerships. 

But despite these growing concerns, Amazon is aggressively pursuing surveillance partnerships. A little over a month ago, there were 400 cities with these partnerships. Today, there are over 500. As the number of partnerships grows, so do the threats they pose to:

  • Civil Liberties. Amazon renders the Fourth Amendment irrelevant by giving law enforcement backdoor, warrantless access to mass surveillance footage.

  • Privacy. Amazon’s Ring doorbell cameras provide footage of millions of American families––from a baby in their crib to someone walking their dog to a neighbor playing with young children in their yard––and other bystanders that don’t know they are being filmed and haven’t given their consent.
  • Security. Ring cameras don’t use end to end encryption, and reports indicate that Amazon employees and contractors have direct access to some live feeds, raising significant national security concerns. 

“We can’t trust Amazon to do what’s necessary to protect us,” said Evan Greer deputy director of Fight for the Future. “Millions of Americans buy Amazon Ring products unaware of the dangers the technology and partnerships pose. Amazon wants to keep it that way. We need Congress to publicly investigate Amazon’s surveillance dragnet and hold a hearing to openly question Amazon Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff on dangers Ring technology and these partnerships pose to this country.”

Amazon’s inability to be transparent and honest exacerbates existing concerns with their surveillance network. Amazon denies integrating facial recognition software with Ring technology—yet Ring’s Ukrainian office reportedly tests facial recognition technology on user footage. They claim that police won’t ever have direct access to user footage—but they experimented with a feature for 911 calls to trigger Ring doorbell cameras to wake up and live stream for police use.

With no accountability and oversight, privacy and civil liberties concerns with Amazon’s surveillance technology and partnerships outpace the NSA’s spying programs. Congress was elected to protect our rights and ensure our security. It’s time they did both when it comes to Amazon.

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