WaPo: Ring and Nest helped normalize American surveillance and turned us into a nation of voyeurs by Drew Harwell (“For all the worries about hacking, owners of Internet-connected cameras say they love watching people silently from afar — often their own family members”):
The extra eyes have been a huge gift to American law enforcement. Ring lets police officers use a special tool to ask customers for videos captured in and around their houses, and the number of police agencies with access has more than doubled since September, to nearly 900 agencies across 44 states, a Post analysis found. “Ring believes when communities and local police work together, safer neighborhoods can become a reality,” Ring spokeswoman Yassi Shahmiri said in a statement.
Privacy advocates have called the Ring-police partnerships an unnerving escalation of criminal surveillance powers. But nearly every Ring owner contacted by The Post said they would have no problem providing video to law enforcement if it could help solve a crime. Police and prosecutors last month pushed to use Ring doorbell footage in a Texas murder investigation and a New Hampshire assault trial.
Some homeowners said they had already tried to be police informants, logging in several times a day to Ring’s companion app, Neighbors, in which people can share video of break-ins, lost dogs and seemingly unsavory characters.
Some customers also voiced anxiety over who might have access to their in-home feeds. An Amazon executive told senators last month that Ring had fired employees following four complaints that they had abused access to customers’ video data; the company has declined to provide further detail. Criticism of the systems has also come from inside the companies: Amazon software engineer Max Eliaser wrote last month that the mass deployment of Internet-connected cameras was “simply not compatible with a free society.”