Group tackles Amazon on surveillance
A US civil liberties advocacy group has rolled out a campaign to put pressure on municipalities to stay out of tie-ups with Amazon-owned home surveillance company Ring.
Fight for the Future has launched a petition which demands that elected officials “stop police from entering into for-profit surveillance partnerships with companies like Amazon Ring. These partnerships undermine our democratic process and basic civil liberties; they should be banned.”
The group cites a recent report that suggests some 200-plus local law enforcement agencies across the US now have surveillance partnerships with Amazon’s Ring doorbells. It points out that the company arms police forces with free or subsidised camera-enabled doorbells to market to residents.
“If a police department wanted to install surveillance cameras on all of our front doors, they would have to get permission from elected officials and the public,” says Fight for the Future. “Amazon has found the perfect end-run around the democratic process.”
And Ring is reportedly working on in-house face, object, and voice recognition systems, with users engaged in testing of such systems, with no customer opt-outs available.
Earlier this year, Amazon shareholder group Open Mic filed a resolution asking the company to prohibit sales of its Rekognition facial recognition technology unless the firm can be sure it does not pose civil and human rights risks.
Three US cities have now banned the use of facial recognition technology by their departments, including by the police.