The Porch Pirate of Potrero Hill Can’t Believe It Came to This - #technoskeptic #dystopia

" The first time Ganave Fairley got busted for stealing a neighbor’s Amazon package, she was just another porch thief unlucky to be caught on tape. In August 2016, a 30-something product marketing manager at Google, expecting some deliveries, got an iPhone ping from his porch surveillance camera as it recorded a black woman in a neon hoodie plucking some bundles off his San Francisco stoop. After arriving home that afternoon, the Googler got in his Subaru Impreza to hunt for any remnants strewn around the streets of his Potrero Hill neighborhood. Instead, he spotted Fairley herself, boarding a city bus, which he trailed while dialing 911. Minutes later, he watched responding police officers pull their cruiser in front of the bus and escort her off. The Googler, sitting nearby in his car, played the Nest Cam tape for them— Yep, it’s her —and the police pulled a $107.66 Apple Magic Keyboard from Fairley’s purse and black tar heroin from her coin pocket. The officers wrote Fairley a ticket with a court date a month later. “I thought it was just a ticket, and that was it,” Fairley said.

Currently, 17 percent of American homeowners have a smart video surveillance device, and unit sales are expected to double by 2023. (Fairley was caught on Nest and another cam called Kuna, and several neighbors filmed her on their phones.) The popularity of these devices has led to the “porch pirate gotcha” film genre, a sort of America’s Funniest Home Videos of petty crime. In 2018, a 30-something white woman named Kelli Russell became viral international news for stealing boxes from 21 Dallas neighbors while looking like she was on her way to yoga class. “She’s blond and a former model, and it makes it explode,” her attorney Tim Menchu told me.

The proliferation of porch cameras surely contributes to the surveillance culture on Nextdoor and other social apps. Amazon’s Ring division has been particularly aggressive in marketing its products, including through city officials. Under the reasoning that more surveillance improves public safety, over 500 police departments—including in Houston and a stretch of Los Angeles suburbs—have partnered with Ring. Many departments advertise rebates for Ring devices on government social media channels, sometimes offering up to $125. Ring matches the rebate up to $50."

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