“You know what would be cool,” said the consumer product that wished it was a cop? “If everything we made catered to law enforcement rather than the end user.” That’s the Ring business model: make inroads with security-conscious homeowners by inserting them into a toxic ecosystem that includes a snitch app that amps up the worst aspects of humanity, and breaks down the walls between “sharing” and “giving law enforcement agencies footage they can keep and distribute forever without limitation.”
Ring doorbells have 95% of the doorbell camera market. That’s a lot of “f-k you” market share. Ring says all doorbell camera footage belongs to homeowners, even as it renders homeowners extraneous by handing over footage stored in the cloud in response to subpoenas. Ring says it cares about the privacy of its customers, even as it tallies up doorbell rings and partners with law enforcement in sting operations.
The never ending negative news cycles continues for Ring with these details tucked away in another long, scathing report on the the doorbell company that wants so badly to be deputized, it’s willing to cross lines most tech companies aren’t willing to cross.
Caroline Haskins of Vice has been tracking Ring’s incestuous relationship with law enforcement for several months now, using a slew of public records requests to make the things Ring and law enforcement don’t want to discuss publicly public.
In her latest post — one that should be read start to finish, especially if you haven’t kept current with Ring’s endless deluge of self-owns — Haskins points out some more reprehensible behavior by the home security company that thinks it’s a domestic surveillance contractor.
Being a good citizen involves more than flying an American flag over your driveway.
West Hollywood, CA distributed flyers advertising its Ring subsidy program at voter registration events, according to documents obtained by Motherboard. West Hollywood also sold subsidized Ring products “exclusively” to residents in areas moderated by neighborhood watches. Everyone who bought a discounted camera was added to a registry list with their name and address.
Ah, there’s nothing more American than implicating the First and Fourth Amendments at the same time. The only way this would have been more American is if law enforcement asked citizens to turn over their weapons until troops were done staying at their homes.
Ask not what your [insert law enforcement agency name here] can do for you. Ask what you can do for [REDONDO BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT].
Police from Redondo Beach, CA even used the pretense of camera registries to determine who should get a discount and who shouldn’t, according to a city council meeting memo obtained by Motherboard. Police said that they inspected the facades of homes of each applicant, and looked for who had the most “optimal viewpoints that could assist with criminal investigations.”
Kind of f-ked up. What makes it really f-ked up is the Redondo Beach PD offered steeper discounts to homeowners who agreed to place cameras in areas where they could capture footage “of the entire block” (60% stipend) or a “neighboring residence” (50% stipend).
Meanwhile, further north, Green Bay, WI police handed out cameras to residents under a “loan” program that predicated end user “ownership” on police ownership of all footage.
The implicit ask becomes explicit. Ring has partnered with 600+ law enforcement agencies. There’s no reason to believe what’s been revealed here is an anomaly.