Amazon’s Practice of Using User Ring Video Footage Questioned

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There is no doubt the advantage that security cameras can provide when watching out for the safety of your home. Security cameras have always provided that, but now that they easily hook up to our computers and phones, as well as a smart home system, it just adds that much more value to them.

However, Amazon is being called into question for their practice of sharing videos from their Ring Doorbell Camera users, with people suggesting that they were attempting to profit from a homeowner’s attempted break-in.

Amazon Shares Ring Doorbell Camera Footage of Theft

Amazon doesn’t just have the Ring security camera, they also have the “Neighbors” app. This is a community of their users. It’s not integral to the use of the camera and is used on an opt-in basis. Users can share videos of suspected wrongdoing on their doorsteps to alert other users in the area to what was recorded by their Ring Doorbell.

Recently, Amazon shared one of their user’s videos of a woman who was expected to be a thief to a promoted post on Facebook. They asked residents of the California area, “Do you recognize this woman?”

This, of course, caused this video to go viral with everyone wanting to learn the identity of this suspected thief.

A Ring spokesperson referred to this as a supported feature and called it a “Community Alert” that helps “keep neighborhoods safe by encouraging the community to work directly with local police on active cases.’

The statement went on to say that the alerts are created from the Neighbors app for incidents with a verified police report case number. “We get the explicit consent of the Ring customer before the content is posted,” vowed the spokesperson.

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Questions Raised

However, Ring’s practice does raise questions. In today’s Internet age with the propensity for things to go viral, once this is posted to social media, this person’s face on the video has just been seen by an untold number of people. And if they weren’t actually committing a crime, Ring has just damaged their reputation.

It’s one thing for the police to do it to help them solve a case or for a homeowner to do it because they assumably don’t have the same social media reach as Amazon. but for Ring, a division of Amazon to do it?

Additionally, the question is raised of whether Amazon is profiting off a customer’s misfortune. They say they don’t share videos unless getting user permission, but I am sure there are people who may doubt that.

There’s no question the valuable help Ring Doorbell Cameras provide, but should Amazon be able to share footage under the guise of trying to help prevent further crime? What is your opinion? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Ring Video Doorbell, Ring Video Doorbell

2 comments

  1. “It’s one thing for the police to do it to help them solve a case or for a homeowner to do it because they assumably don’t have the same social media reach as Amazon”
    Is it? If the police make a mistake in identification, it still ruins the reputation of that individual PLUS that person becomes more likely to be a person of interest in future crimes.

    Very few homeowners, if any, have the expertise to identify a perpetrator. The vast majority of the time, a homeowner will identify a random person that happens to be within the range of the security camera as “a suspected perpetrator” which will, in all probability, lead to some form of vigilante justice. In case of egregious crimes, such as rape or child molestation, such frontier justice can have very serious consequences all the way to death.

    A good example of such vigilante justice and its results is the case of Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. He was captured, or rather rescued by the police, when someone recognized him, a mob formed and began to beat the crap out of him to exact revenge. (Not that he didn’t deserve it, in the minds of many people) If it wasn’t for the cops, Ramirez would have become a wet spot on the pavement. And that was before Internet and smartphones.

    A more up to date example was the TV show “Wisdom of the Crowd”. In almost every episode the protagonist released on social media a picture of the supposed perpetrator which invariably resulted in misidentification and some kind of injury to the identified individual.

    “should Amazon be able to share footage under the guise of trying to help prevent further crime?”
    Legally, Amazon has the same rights and obligations as any individual. So, in that respect, it has as much right as an individual homeowner to release/share the footage. However, that begs the question whether any entity, except for law enforcement, has the right to disseminate pictures/video of a supposed perpetrator? AFAIAC, releasing videos/pictures analogous to yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater. I would also question Amazon’s right to collect and store Ring video footage under any guise.

  2. I bought a pair of Ring Door bells. They aren’t very different from many of the early video door entry intercom systems except that they were wired.

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