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Fri Aug 9, 2019, 12:16 AM

This Map Shows If Your Town's Police Are Tapped Into Ring's Surveillance Network


Ring, the smart doorbell home security system Amazon bought for over $1 billion last year, is involved in some fairly unnerving arrangements with local law enforcement agencies. Wouldn’t you like to know if the cops in your town are among them?

That’s precisely what Shreyas Gandlur, an incoming senior studying electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign put together, using Amazon’s own demands for narrative control over the law enforcement agencies it works with to help build an interactive map...

Note: Map is at link above

...“I started out with the map created by Fight For The Future,” Gandlur told Gizmodo over Twitter DM, referring to the activist group’s broader project to visualize the state of facial recognition. The initiative includes other programs, like those spun up by the TSA, as well as tracks which cities and municipalities have passed legislation specifically banning the use of such technology. Where ring is concerned, FFTF’s map only includes about 50 cities, a far cry from the “more than 225" police departments reported by Gizmodo late last month. (Ring has declined to share the exact figure.) Finding the rest was, in a sense, trivial.

“Ring pre-writes almost all of the messages shared by police across social media, and attempts to legally obligate police to give the company final say on all statements about its products,” my colleague Dell Cameron wrote, a detail Gandlur seized on.

More at the following:


Everything Cops Say About Amazon's Ring Is Scripted or Approved by Ring


Cops Are Giving Amazon's Ring Your Real-Time 911 Caller Data


Amazon's Ring Is Teaching Cops How to Persuade Customers to Hand Over Surveillance Footage

Amazon’s home security subsidiary Ring wields tremendous power over the messaging used by its law enforcement partners about its products, including by pre-writing and approving police statements about Ring’s services. But according to a new report, Ring is also instructing cops on how to persuade customers to hang over surveillance footage even when they aren’t responsive to police requests.

According to a police memo obtained by Gizmodo and reported last week, Ring has partnerships with “over 225 law enforcement agencies,” Ring is actively involved in scripting and approving how police communicate those partnerships. As part of these relationships, Ring helps police obtain surveillance footage both by alerting customers in a given area that footage is needed and by asking to “share videos” with police. In a disclaimer included with the alerts, Ring claims that sharing the footage “is absolutely your choice.”

But according to documents and emails obtained by Motherboard, Ring also instructed police from two departments in New Jersey on how best to coax the footage out of Ring customers through its “neighborhood watch” app Neighbors in situations where police requests for video were not being met, including by providing police with templates for requests and by encouraging them to post often on the Neighbors app as well as on social media.

In one such email obtained by Motherboard, a Bloomfield Police Department detective requested advice from a Ring associate on how best to obtain videos after his requests were not being answered and further asked whether there was “anything that we can blast out to encourage Ring owners to share the videos when requested.”...

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