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AMAZON RING+POLICE PARTNERSHIPS

Amazon bought Ring, a company that sells home surveillance devices, like doorbell cameras. As it grew a massive network of cameras in neighborhoods across the United States, Amazon started to form dangerous police partnerships.

In just a few years, Amazon integrated Ring into nearly 1,400 police departments across the country. As a part of the partnership, police promote Ring products and engage with Amazon’s neighborhood watch app, Neighbors. In exchange, Amazon provides police departments with an easy way to request and store footage from thousands of residents at one time––allowing for massive warrantless surveillance.

As we divest from policing, we must end these corporate-police partnerships and stop the expansion of surveillance.

HOW THESE PARTNERSHIPS WORK

Amazon + Police partnerships are dangerous. These partnerships provide a workaround for cops to access a privately-run surveillance network without having to abide by any of the laws or public scrutiny they would have if it was government run. This is how it all works:

As a partner, police departments have access to Amazon’s Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal. This portal displays an interactive map cops use to pick a time range up to 12 hours and the area to request footage from. They don’t need evidence or probable cause to make their request. And Amazon coaches cops in using targeted language to encourage users to share their video footage.
After cops make their request, an email is sent to all Ring users in the selected area to access all footage for the given time period. The user can click a link in the email to share their video with the police. If the user says no, police can request video directly from Amazon. And Amazon will preserve the video and share it with police if “they felt they had a legal obligation” to do so.
Amazon hasn’t put any safeguards in place to protect users or their footage. Once police departments get the footage, cops do whatever they want with it. They conduct facial recognition searches, respond to reports of “suspicious” people, investigate petty property crimes, track protesters demanding an end to police violence and systematic racism, and even share it with other law enforcement agencies like ICE and FBI.

DANGERS OF AMAZON+POLICE SURVEILLANCE PARTNERSHIPS

Amazon + Police surveillance partnerships function with no oversight or accountability. With Amazon’s help, cops have essentially installed surveillance cameras on all of our front doors, without public oversight, despite endangering our rights and liberties. With the end-run Amazon provides, the police get access to user footage en masse without a warrant, probable cause, or judicial review. By extending its private surveillance empire to the police, Amazon poses a direct threat to our rights, our democracy, and the lives of Black and brown people.

Amazon + Police Partnership Threatens Basic Civil Liberties

After the murder of George Floyd millions of protesters took to the streets to oppose police violence and systematic racism. Cops used heavily invasive surveillance tools to identify, track, and even arrest activists exercising their First Amendment rights.

Their partnership with Amazon gave them unprecedented access to request footage en masse without probable cause. In doing so, Amazon helps police subvert the Fourth Amendment by giving them backdoor access to mass surveillance networks without a warrant.

The police could use footage and facial recognition software from Amazon’s dragnet to track down protesters they were targeting, as well as share it with other agencies, like the DEA, that were tasked with suppressing protests and intimidating protestors. This kind of power without accountability threatens our basic civil rights

Amazon + Police Partnership Fuels Racist Policing

Racial profiling is at the heart of Amazon Ring’s business model. In partnership with the police, Amazon profits from and fosters a culture of racist fear mongering. And they actively work with police in a racially coded quest for ‘law and order.’ Policing dramatically exacerbates criminalization of Black and brown people––further subjecting Black and brown people to repressive police violence and feeds them directly into the system of mass incarceration.

Amazon Ring is not safe

Ring devices are not secure. They don’t use end to end encryption, leaving this extremely private and sensitive footage vulnerable to cyber-attacks like the hacks that took place in December. Additionally, the devices have leaked users’ Wi-Fi passwords to the public while The Neighbors app shared the users’ home addresses. And Amazon employees and contractors have accessed some live camera feeds. There's no telling what Amazon’s employees could do with this trove of sensitive video footage from inside users’ homes, or whom they could share it with or sell it to. These devices put people at risk.

AMAZON+POLICE SURVEILLANCE EMPIRE

Amazon creates dangerous technology marketed to make policing faster, cheaper, and more efficient in social control. This automated surveillance technology enables mass scale policing that can monitor everyone everywhere. Amazon’s surveillance empire will only solidify the police state.

Amazon Ring + Facial Recognition

Pervasive video surveillance is particularly dangerous when integrated with facial recognition, which can be used to identify and track people, their whereabouts, and their social interactions.

For years, Amazon marketed its dangerous facial recognition software, Rekognition, to its police partners. Amazon knew police were using this technology incorrectly and without public oversight, and they knew that Rekognition disproportionately misidentifies Black and brown people, transgender people, and women—but, they refused to stop.

After intense pressure on Amazon and nationwide protests against police violence, Amazon announced a one year moratorium on police using Rekognition. However, Amazon can continue research and development on Rekognition and continue to grow partnerships with federal law enforcement agencies.

Amazon’s Self-Surveillance App

Amazon Neighbors, a neighborhood watch app, lets people upload footage from their Ring or other camera for anyone to see. All the posts on Neighbors are immediately categorized as ‘crime’ with the majority of the posts being tagged as suspicious, strange, or unknown people.

In encouraging people to self-police their neighborhoods based on identifying who belongs there or not, Neighbors facilitates the racial profiling and criminalizing of Black and brown people––which is reflected in posts on the app.

Neighbors App is set up to foster wide-spread paranoia and fear. Users are empowered by the app to surveil themselves and their neighbors. This massive network of organized self-surveillance threatens core democratic values and further entrenches the Amazon-police surveillance state.

Amazon: A Cop’s Best Friend

While activists call for the defunding of police forces, Amazon is doing everything they can to solidify themselves as an extension of law enforcement. They throw special high-dollar parties for the police with special guests like Shaq. They make large donations to police foundations across the country and they’re constantly researching new ways for their technology to be at the center of policing.

Amazon has experimented with a feature for 911 calls to trigger Ring doorbell cameras to wake up and live stream for police use. There are reports of Amazon forming a partnership with Axon, a company that produces TASER shock devices and body cameras for police.

DOES YOUR CITY HAVE A PARTNERSHIP?

Ring Partnerships Map

CHECK THE MAP