Multiple police forces across the United States have partnered with Ring.com. These police departments want access to Ring.com users’ video doorbells and video camera systems. In theory access to camera footage should lower crime levels and help solve crimes. There are many issues though with Police teaming with Ring.com. Here are some of the problems with Ring.com partnering with Police departments.
The first issue is the possible invasion of privacy stemming from the partnership. Video footage is a key tool in solving crimes. Video allows police to see what actually occurred in a criminal event. Where is the line though? Constant access to video footage could jeopardize civil liberties. Plus, who has access to this footage? When footage is shared, various people can access it. Is the footage secure?
There is a certain right to privacy that can be breached when camera footage is shared on a mass level. When there is no check and balance at who gets to see the footage, video access can be misused.
The other major concern is the fact that Ring.com is owned by Amazon. To really understand the extent of this concern, it’s important to understand Amazon as a company.
Amazon has multiple focuses with their business. They have an online sales platform – the place where you buy all your stuff. Amazon also has a web server business. They also gather and monetize data. Beyond that they own Whole Foods, Zappos, Twitch, Ecobee and Audible (amongst numerous other companies).
This leads to the largest problem – Amazon’s core focus is profit, not safety. Amazon cares about revenue, and giving away Ring.com products lead to future opportunities. Supply the product for free then have the customer add Ring.com monitoring. Once that happens, put the customer on mailing lists to market other Amazon companies products and services.
The irony is that Ring.com’s goal isn’t to keep people out of your home, but rather to let people in – specifically Amazon and Whole Foods. Ring.com also gives Amazon the opportunity to eventually gain access to the home. Here’s the example: you order from Amazon or Whole Foods. The delivery man comes to your home with your goods. Instead of leaving it on your doorstep, they type in a code and enter your home. They turn off your Ring.com system and put your groceries away. They then rearm your Ring.com alarm when they leave.
Police on the other hand only care about providing security. Police want to stop crimes and catch criminals. This directly contradicts Amazon’s gameplan. If the product being supplied to homes is really a sales Trojan horse, then there is a problem. Security is secondary to future monetary sales opportunities. The police are in essence being duped.
Police should only partner with alarm companies that have a singular focus. This way there are no conflicts of interest. Security is the sole goal. It’s clear to the homes that are being protected that there is no back pocket marketing of other services and products. The only thing that matters is stopping crime – not selling toilet paper or audiobooks.