Today in “those who surrender their liberty for security” news…
The Jackson, Mississippi police department is piloting a 45 day program that allows them to live stream private security cameras, including Amazon Ring cameras, at the residences of its citizens.
It’s no surprise that Amazon’s Ring cameras were the only brand named for the pilot program, as EFF pointed out, since they have over 1,000 partnerships with local police departments.
The program allows Ring owners to patch their camera streams to a “Real Time Crime Center” – i.e. a dispatcher on desk duty whose new favorite way of passing the time is to watch you bring out your garbage twice a week in a bathrobe.
While the pilot program is supposedly “opt-in” only, meaning residents have to volunteer to be a part of it, it is an obvious step in the wrong direction of mass privacy invasion without a warrant.
The worst part is that even if you don’t participate and a neighbor’s cameras are pointed off center, perhaps towards a portion of your property, that footage can now be reviewed and combed through by law enforcement officials.
Police have used Ring cameras to “build comprehensive CCTV camera networks blanketing whole neighborhoods”, EFF notes, reducing the hardware burden on the department and slipping their presence into a neighborhood where it may otherwise not be welcomed.
Amazon published a statement distancing themselves from the program: “[Amazon and Ring] are not involved in any way with any of the companies or the city in connection with the pilot program. The companies, the police and the city that were discussed in the article do not have access to Ring’s systems or the Neighbors App. Ring customers have control and ownership of their devices and videos ,and can choose to allow access as they wish.”