Amazon's Ring doorbells are surveillance devices that conduct round-the-clock video surveillance of your neighborhood, automatically flagging "suspicious" faces and bombarding you and your neighbors with alerts using an app called "Neighbors"; it's a marriage of Amazon's Internet of Things platform with its "Rekognition" facial recognition tool, which it has marketed aggressively to cities, law enforcement, ICE, businesses and everyday customers as a security measure that can help ID bad guys, despite the absence of a database identifying which faces belong to good people and which faces belong to bad people.
Part of the home surveillance project is a fear-based marketing campaign — a whole news vertical — designed to convince Americans that their neighborhoods are so dangerous that they owe it to themselves and their neighbors to conduct surveillance of the streets in front of their homes.
The latest salvo in the war is a paid "promoted post" Facebook campaign featuring Ring surveillance footage of suspected petty criminals (a woman trying a car door handle and walking away), urging viewers to get in touch with local cops in order to help solve a crime that may in fact not be a crime.
A post on the the Mountain View Police Department's websites details the incident and also shares an image from the Ring camera. "Footage obtained from a neighbor's home captured a woman who is believed to be the suspect in the theft," the post says. The woman is suspected of stealing someone's purse and wallet from inside a car, and making a series of purchases around town with those stolen credit cards.
A spokesperson for MVPD told Motherboard in an email that "while we did not ask Ring to post footage, the additional outreach, and the additional eyes that may see this woman and recognize her, are most welcome and helpful!" A spokesperson for Ring told Motherboard in an email that its Facebook post encourages communities to work with local cops to "help keep neighborhoods safe."
"Alerts are created using publicly posted content from the Neighbors app that has a verified police report case number," the company said. "We get the explicit consent of the Ring customer before the content is posted, and utilize sponsored, geotargeted posts to limit the content to relevant communities."
Amazon's Home Surveillance Company Is Putting Suspected Petty Thieves in its Advertisements [Samantha Cole/Motherboard]
(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY)