Amazon Requires Police to Shill Surveillance Cameras in Secret Agreement

"Amazon’s home security company Ring has enlisted local police departments around the country to advertise its surveillance cameras in exchange for free Ring products and a “portal” that allows police to request footage from these cameras, a secret agreement obtained by Motherboard shows. The agreement also requires police to “keep the terms of this program confidential.”

Dozens of police departments around the country have partnered with Ring, but until now, the exact terms of these partnerships have remained unknown. A signed memorandum of understanding between Ring and the police department of Lakeland, Florida, and emails obtained via a public records request, show that Ring is using local police as a de facto advertising firm. Police are contractually required to "Engage the Lakeland community with outreach efforts on the platform to encourage adoption of the platform/app.”

“Amazon has products to sell, and an incentive to get consumers to be fearful and buy their self-surveillance technologies; police have a related interest to obtain surveillance from areas that they don’t have the resources to obtain surveillance from,” Ferguson said. “You can see why it’s in their economic sense. But it raises some problems and troubles and issues that society should have about whether this is the type of self-surveillance world we’re comfortable with.”

“I think a lot of this goes back to the premise that people often don’t think about how creating a network of surveillance ultimately is bad for society,” Gilliard said. “It’s not just bad for bad guys, it’s going to be bad for everyone.”

Ferguson said that it’s important to remember that consumers ultimately choose to use Ring products and consent to self-surveillance networks.

“The hard question, the hard trouble, is that this is really about a consumer-focused drive,” Ferguson said. “This is consumers making this choice to create self-surveillance cities.”"

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