US Cities Are Helping People Buy Amazon Surveillance Cameras With Taxpayer Money

" “HELP STOP CRIME BEFORE IT HAPPENS,” the ad continues.

This isn’t an ad from Best Buy or an electronics store. It’s an ad from the Arcadia city government. The local city government is selling discounted surveillance cameras directly to its residents, and the “discount” is subsidized by the city. In other words, taxpayer money is being paid to Ring, Amazon’s home surveillance company, in exchange for hundreds of surveillance cameras.

Cities and towns around the country are paying Ring up to $100,000 to subsidize the purchase of the company’s surveillance cameras for private residents. For every dollar committed by a city per these agreements, Ring will match it. This motivates cities to pledge tens of thousands of dollars to a tech giant that is building a private, nationwide surveillance network—which Amazon is using, in part, to secure the packages it delivers. A typical discount program will last several weeks, or until a certain number of residents take advantage of the program.

Cities are paying Ring so that residents can enter a private, mostly unregulated surveillance ecosystem that includes cameras both outside and inside their homes. Ring’s products are marketed with the typical language of security services, which serves to promote fear and encourage people to snitch on their neighbors. Ring camera footage is accessible at any moment by employees in Ukraine, and all Ring owners are, often unknowingly, engaging in de facto beta testing for Ring’s facial, object, and voice recognition systems. Gizmodo reported Thursday that Ring hires “news editors” to pull 911 call data into its “neighborhood watch” app, Neighbors, for real-time, unconfirmed crime alerts."

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