Latest in Gear

Image credit:

Senate demands answers from Amazon over Ring surveillance

Ring's camera networks could become "dangerous burdens on people of color."
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
September 6, 2019
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Ring's controversial "Neighbors" surveillance network and cozy relationship with police departments has drawn the eye US lawmakers. In a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos, Senator Edward Markey expressed concern that the system "could easily create a surveillance network that places dangerous burdens on people of color and [feed] racial anxieties in local communities."

Amazon acquired Ring last year for $1 billion in an attempt to counter Google's purchase of Nest. The company launched its Neighbors app shortly afterwards, explaining that it would allow users to reports suspicious goings-on and report them to law enforcement.

However, several reports raised privacy concerns about a mega-corporation teaming with law enforcement. Privacy and civil liberties experts were particularly concerned about the ease with which police departments could request Ring surveillance videos without a warrant.

In light of evidence that existing facial recognition technology disproportionately misidentifies African Americans and Latinos, a product like this has the potential to catalyze racial profiling and harm people of color.

What caught lawmakers' eyes, however, was the risk of Amazon marrying its controversial facial recognition technology with Ring's surveillance network. Such technology has shown to be poor at recognizing people of color, in one case misidentifying 26 California lawmakers as criminals.

"I am particularly alarmed to learn that Ring is pursuing facial recognition technology with the potential to flag certain individuals as suspicious based on their biometric information," wrote Markey. "In light of evidence that existing facial recognition technology disproportionately misidentifies African Americans and Latinos, a product like this has the potential to catalyze racial profiling and harm people of color."

Markey also included a list of ten questions, asking which law enforcement entities have access to Ring data, whether they share it with others and whether Ring consulted with experts on civil liberties and criminal justice before implementing the system. Ring told Gizmodo that it's reviewing the letter, but declined to comment further. The company has until September 26th to respond.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Chevy will start selling EV retrofit kits in 2021

Chevy will start selling EV retrofit kits in 2021

View
AI can detect COVID-19 by listening to your coughs

AI can detect COVID-19 by listening to your coughs

View
Roborace engineer explains why a driverless racecar drove into a wall

Roborace engineer explains why a driverless racecar drove into a wall

View
$149 Playdate handheld is 'ready to go,' orders start in early 2021

$149 Playdate handheld is 'ready to go,' orders start in early 2021

View
Nest thermostats in the US and Canada can now monitor your HVAC system

Nest thermostats in the US and Canada can now monitor your HVAC system

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr