Does Amazon's Ring Mean a Safer Neighborhood or an Invasion of Privacy?

Sep 11, 2019

A Northeast Ohio police department is part of a nationwide partnership with Amazon that uses a doorbell security system for surveillance.

Rocky River is the first police department in the region to use Amazon’s Ring video doorbell system, which allows residents to send videos of suspicious activity through an app called Neighbors.

Amazon hopes the app will create a safer environment, but critics are concerned about the risks of becoming a surveillance society.

Elizabeth Bonham, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Ohio, says that the app limits the user’s privacy, and can provoke racial bias.

“If someone is collecting data about and then transmitting to the government, information about people that they feel don’t belong, um, you know this could really intensify racism and its relationship with policing.” 

Bonham says that this type of profiling can degrade relationships between the community and police.

She says there’s no evidence so far that this form of surveillance leads to reduced crime rates.