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Amazon's Ring Police Portal For Mass Surveillance (dropbox.com)
281 points by emcarey 54 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 171 comments



I found this dropbox link to Ring's marketing video for Police Departments to use their smart video cameras for mass surveillance. This was made before Amazon acquired them. At the end of the demo the CEO states that their facial recognition search feature will be available soon.

This software is made in Ukraine and the hardware is manufactured in China. There was no private company contract bid - Ring is just giving this to cops for free and offering customers a discount for letting their video surveillance from their home / doorbell be shared with the police in this portal.

over 50+ local police departments are now partners.

There is no encryption. There is no 2FA. There is no legal protection for privacy of citizens face's caught in these cameras and added to their facial recognition algorithms.

Ring Ukraine is hiring aggressively, they grew from 10 engineers to 500 in two years. It's one of the top image processing R&D labs in Eastern Europe. Based on their job descriptions.... the facial recognition search being deployed in the police portals of Ring is pretty advanced.

for more on Ring Ukraine www.ring-ukraine.com

I got this ring marketing video from officer.com / a website for police industry news.


Huh? How did you get something entirely different from the article. The article says police will have access to the neighborhoods law enforcement portal, which only gives them access to public posts of Ring users. The only addition that the law enforcement portal appears to give is the fact that they can request video clips from homeowners.

There are some valid concerns there but you’re mischaracterizing this tool and how it works.


> There is no encryption. There is no 2FA. There is no legal protection for privacy of citizens face's caught in these cameras and added to their facial recognition algorithms.

Those are some interesting claims. Where is this information sourced from?


the engineering team


> There is no encryption. There is no 2FA. There is no legal protection for privacy of citizens face's caught in these cameras and added to their facial recognition algorithms.

Yes and no lawsuit will be won either. Every judge will strike it based on being in public assumption of lack of privacy. If you walk on public street, don't assume your privacy is protected :(


It's way more complex than that. For instance here the evidence from a webcam filming from a public vantage point was struck down.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/12/cops-illegally-n...

I've also seen SCOTUS rulings that they see a difference between public ancillary recordings, and mass surveillance of all public actions.


Great example +1; however in this example cops assumed Mr. Vargas to commit crime and hence setup cam to watch aka surveillance his property 24/7. Very difference from situation where average citizens records their front yard 24/7 not expecting or assuming a crime will occur, and then having that video being obtained when the crime happens.

In other words, this case is about active surveillance, versus Ring cams are more passive (record everything all the time for no specific reason)


Ring is marketed as a security camera, and one of it's primary use cases is providing video recording in the event of a crime.


Exactly! Not marketed as a tool to surveillance your neighbor 24/7.


If you walk on public street

No, this is not public property, it's if you walk on private property. Ring cams are placed on private property and are targeted at homeowners. They usually don't record or activate outside of a range of 30 feet or so. So if someone drives by my house the ring cam doesn't capture it but if someone walks by my door it does.


> They usually don't record or activate outside of a range of 30 feet or so.

30 feet is often more than the distance from the front door to a sidewalk, and often well into the actual street.


30 feet is often across the street.


They usually don't record or activate outside of a range of 30 feet or so.

The Ring videos my neighbors post show their yards, the sidewalk, and all the way to the cars on the other side of the street.

It seems to be all about how your doorbell is positioned, though.


These are cameras installed in doorbells on private property, there wouldn't be any expectation of privacy.


Except that my house is across the street and the Ring camera points into my windows and can record my private actions inside my own home without my permission.


Are you in the US, do you live on a public street, and does your state have Peeping Tom laws?

It's not cut and dry, but if what you're doing is in clear view of a public street, then it's unlikely you will win an argument based on having a reasonable expectation of privacy.

You of course can bring this argument in front of the courts, but my non-legal opinion is that you wouldn't prevail.

There are a few contrived examples:

A cop walks by and sees you assault someone in your house through the window. That's enough PC to enter without a warrant. You can try to argue your privacy was violated and , but it was in clear view of the public.

You perform a lewd act in your home in front of the window, that is in clear view of a school bus stop where children are awaiting the bus. It would be doubtful that you could use privacy as a defense against indecent exposure laws.

If the ring camera was somehow zoomed in to ONLY film your actions through the window, then perhaps you may have cause.


> Ring is just giving this to cops for free and offering customers a discount for letting their video surveillance from their home / doorbell be shared with the police in this portal

That's a hell of a market strategy. Do you have a source on that discount story? Because I'm not able to find one right now.


Do you have a source on that discount story? Because I'm not able to find one right now.

Not the OP, but my neighborhood's Nextdoor message board is filled with both Ring discounts, and pleas from the local PD for people to buy them. I have no proof that they're related, but if the marketing is being done through hyper-targeted methods like this, it might explain why it's not Googleable.


I think I misunderstood OP's meaning. I though they were claiming the police were paying directly for video signal; it appears police or Ring are offering discounts to get the hardware in the belief that citizens will volunteer the video when the local police need help to stop a crime.


No encryption? You can siphon the videos from the ring device by just connecting on the same wifi?

The concerns of allowing a surveillance state are real. I hope Jamie addresses all these concerns.


do you have a mirror to this? video has been taken down.


found a mirror: https://vimeo.com/290482418


I'm a Ring customer. The Ring Portal is optional and opt-in. People want this. This is similar but not the same as Yc's Flock https://www.flocksafety.com/ but it doesn't require a home owner's association to set up and it's inexpensive. (Flock focuses on storing license plates.)

Stuff like this helps police do something about robberies and burglaries. It's harder to ignore and file away when there's video evidence.

Megapixel IP cameras are getting cheaper and cheaper every day. We already live in a mass surveillance society with microphones and cameras in almost all of our rooms, with some people even installing Echos in their bathrooms. Instead of bad Big Brother, we get helpful Little Sister (Alexa, Siri, Kortana, ...). imo The only real way to completely escape it, is to avoid technology and live outside of large metros; away from civilization


> The only real way to completely escape it, is to avoid technology and live outside of large metros; away from civilization

This is an incredibly subservient, defeatist attitude.

I do not allow devices like Alexa into my home. I do not own a smart TV. Besides studio recording equipment, the only microphone in my house is on my phone.

If I have my own cameras, and a burglary takes place, I will share that part of the video with the local police.

Letting them just hook in is positively insane. Saying it's OK to let Big Brother into my house on the basis of fear and because Little Sister is already there is not only completely irrational, but cowardly as well.

As the saying goes, "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security."


> This is an incredibly subservient, defeatist attitude.

It's reality if you use a smart phone or own a tablet, or are around others that do. Do your friends and family own one? Do you not own and use a smart phone? You know the device that tracks your location and pushes your data to the cloud. Pretending that doesn't exist is just another instance of cognitive dissonance. Besides what happens when people take a picture of you? They post it to the cloud along with datetime and location data, and even names.

A lot of people who value convenience above all do not realize what they are trading it for. Many of these people don't even realize that's what they value most. It's hard not to be in that category if you use almost any kind of cloud connected service. I'm only making blissfully ignorant people aware of it. Maybe you should reexamine the digital aspect of your own life before strongly judging me.

> I do not allow devices like Alexa into my home.

What about Siri, Google, or Kortana? Siri is on both iPhones and Macs now. Kortana is on every Win 10 machine. Google Assistant / Ok Google is on Chrome OS and Android.

Do you own any IoT device? Even if they don't have a mic or camera, they can still track you and your habits.

> "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security."

I'm not sure how I've traded my liberty on this one. It's not like I voted for a Patriot Act, where I don't have a choice on what I'm willing to share.

> Letting them just hook in is positively insane. If I have my own cameras, and a burglary takes place, I will share that part of the video with the local police.

They don't "hook in". It's just NextDoor for Ring owners where it's easier to share video with other Ring owners and now police. You CAN pick and choose what you want to share on Ring Neighborhood. That's how it works. Again no one is forced to even join Ring Neighborhood and you pick and choose what you want to share. Most importantly, even after you join - you can opt out at anytime.

People now have a better chance of getting police to deal with people who steal their packages.


I'm a Ring customer. The Ring Portal is optional and opt-in.

I'm not a Ring owner, but several of my neighbors are. Two have told me that they have been pressured by police officers — in person — to join some kind of surveillance program. I'm not sure if it's this one, or something else.

I also don't know how the cops found out that they had Ring devices, but the local PD advocates for it heavily on my neighborhood's Nextdoor group.


Were they forced to join? Was it compulsory? You do know even after you join, you choose what clips to share right?


All I know is that they were creeped out that the police asked them directly.

I didn't ask if they signed up or not. But the average person isn't some internet pretend lawyer, and will go along with anything someone with a badge says. Just the request is intimidation enough for most people.

even after you join, you choose what clips to share right?

You choose what you want to voluntarily share. But since the videos are on Ring's server, when the homeowner says "no," the courts say, "yes."


> You choose what you want to voluntarily share. But since the videos are on Ring's server, when the homeowner says "no," the courts say, "yes."

1. If this is true, then it applies to all data in the cloud, including stuff everyone already stores from their smartphone. Are you going to stop using your smart phone? Are you going to stop using Waze and online maps? Do you maintain your own personal email server? Do you use IM? Law enforcement would also have to make a formal request for the data. They don’t have instant access to it.

2. Again, this is completely opt-in and you can leave when you want.

3. To keep your video clips longer than a few hours, you need to pay for a Ring subscription. Again this is optional.

4. no one is forced to buy Ring devices

5. Mass surveillance has been here for years now. It doesn’t matter if you use Facebook or not. As long as your friends, family, and coworkers use it; they will have data on you. Is it possible to avoid? Of course but it would require such as drastic change in life that it would be impractical for most techies


If the courts are saying yes there has to be a justifiable reason. A crime has to have happened. It isn't the 'if you don't have anything to hide...' argument at that point, it's 'if you don't have a crime to hide'. That said I'm avoiding such technology as long as possible for other reasons.

I say as I type this on my phone with a camera and microphone pointed at me.


I can not imagine developing this and thinking that it is Good. This type of product and platform completely ignores the reality of how it will be used and how police behave in American society.

In the demo video, their example has someone sharing a photo of "suspicious people" walking around outside their house, and has neighbors commenting "oh no!" on it. Now the police are alerted to this "crime" which may not even be a crime. Anyone who has an account on NextDoor knows the hysteria around a minor event like a car that someone doesn't recognize being in the neighborhood.

The next step is police or homeowner arresting or shooting someone captured on video and posted to this social feed as having committed a crime.

The developers, marketers, SV investors, etc who promote this type of surveillance as a good idea need a course in ethics and reality.


Anyone who has an account on NextDoor knows the hysteria around a minor event like a car that someone doesn't recognize being in the neighborhood.

Happened to me. I saw myself in a Nextdoor video as someone "suspicious," followed pleas from the homeowner and a chorus of cabbageheads for more videos from anyone living nearby so they could identify the car I drive.

That's what I get for walking through a public park that backs into a group of homes two hours before closing time.

The level of paranoia in the suburbs is just off the charts. I can't wait until I can move back to a city like New York or Chicago or Houston, where I can be safe from my neighbors, and only have to worry about the criminals.


Bad news, then. I live in the city of Los Angeles, and our NextDoor is just as bad.


This would make it so much easier for the neighborhood nosybody to report dark people walking around in a light people neighborhood. See something racial; say something racist.

The television commercials for Ring are ridiculous. They act like it's a magical talisman against criminals, who scuttle away like cockroaches under its wary gaze.


I agree completely. It also feel's like the worst part of dystopian by integrating a somewhat clean/modern UI, almost like an SNL commercial for a SaaS platform.


I can't stand nextdoor. Bunch of idiots scared of their own shadow sharing photos and videos of "suspicious" people and dumbasses asking about "gunshots" any time a car backfires or a firecracker is set off.

Ridiculous.


Now imagine someone's Ring camera takes a snapshot of the person with the backfiring car and sends it to the police as having fired a gun! Who would build this?


Here is an example of Ring partnering with a police department - Orlando - to offer discounted video surveillance IoT devices to citizens, with caveat that they can share their videos with cops to fight crime.

Orlando police department was called out for civil rights violations when they partnered with Amazon's facial recognition technology. The thing about Ring is it's marketed to consumers as a cheap camera....not a hard core image processing face rec AI tool for policing built by Ukraine's biggest tech company.

Every single security article you read about Ukraine's cyber attacks warns about IoT and russian intelligence officials penetrating the private sector. Do american police forces even care about the vulnerability of having this portal app on their phones? Again, nothing is encrypted.

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/orange/os-orlando-ring-...


What do you mean by nothing is encrypted? Transport encryption?


So you mean the discount is for the hardware under the assumption that the users will consent, not actually direct compensation for sending data to the police?


Can’t say why this feels strange, but’s it’s also not as sensational as the title. Ring Users have to choose to share the information. As someone who has a Ring device, I find the neighborhood feature more a nuisance than anything. It’s mostly people posting videos from their doorbell cams asking if anyone knows why’s the guy with a clipboard was at their door, or posting videos of “suspicious” people in their neighborhood without any crime to report. Not hard to guess what the “suspicious” people shared usually look like.

Before these cameras lots of people knocked on your door while you were at work at you never knew.


Did you miss the part about facial recognition and suspicious activity detection?


Where? The OP combines a Amazon Facial Recognition controversy with Ring Video, which they did just acquire, but provides nothing to support the claim that the information is somehow connected.

The OP also makes the inflated claim saying it will offer facial recognition, when the video actually says person recognition. This is something Nest and other systems have offered for years. Person recognition ensures your system isn’t recording pets or squirrels in your yard and instead records actions by actual people. If you want something to worry about, Nest is actually offering the ability to recognize different people, powered by Google of course.


I agree that Nest is similarly worrying, and has been providing surveillance footage to law enforcement too.


Ah, good thing users can deny the request. American police are famous for their willingness to take no for an answer (insert world's biggest "/s").


At a local business the police went in to request surveillance footage of an incident that took place off their property, but in view of the camera. This isn’t much different, except that the police now have a map of where Ring cameras might be located. The business owner could comply or the police get a subpoena.


This is very different, because a) the police no longer have to bother to ask as long as the camera's owner has opted in, therefore this can scale much more quickly, b) the police can offload "assessments" to some neural network, and c) as far as I'm aware, you may not be able to control or even be aware of which footage is viewed by the police.

The police absolutely do not have a sufficient reason to know every person who has come over to my house in the past X weeks.


That's just not true. The police can send a request to certain cameras recording at certain times with an explination of why they want that video. The owner then gets notified of the requet and can grant or deny it.


Interesting, you're right.


Except they have access whenever they want no subpoena needed, no probable cause or suspicion. Obviously people had been desensitized to privacy and rights violation little by little that now they're willing to share their entire life without hesitation just to avoid somebody stealing their garden hose.


> Ring Users have to choose to share the information.

According to user emcarey:

>There is no encryption

If /u/emcarey is correct (haven't verified this), then the fact that you have "choose to share" is a moot point, the data is out there for anyone to see.


I've argued for a long time, that Nest, Ring, etc., will all become free or highly discounted services soon as long as you're willing to allow them to share the video data.

Based on your camera's location they would have tons of valuable data about the people who live in that area.

Do they go on walks? If so, with who & what.

Do they go to nearby stores?

I can see coming home & getting ads for "winter clothes" & "dog food" after walking my dog in shorts on a cold day.

I'm curious if people who live in more optimal areas would get any additional benefits. Kind of like social media influencers.

"Live in a popular metro area? Receive $100/month for installing a camera in your apartment."


There is significant room for private policing in this space.

This past Saturday I went for my run at approximately 9:45AM, on my run I got a text from my bank of suspicious activity on both my credit and debit card for a total of $1,000. When I got back to my car it all made sense as my passenger window was smashed and my “run bag” with my keys and wallet stolen.

By the time I the cops got there for the report, I spoke to the bank located the time/store (footlocker) the cards were used, I had spoken with the store manager and confirmed 2 men used multiple cards that were declined and confirmed the store had video but the request must be made through HQ.

The cops dont follow up on this and request the video and footlocker won’t give it to me. I know I could go to the store and grease the wheel to get a copy of the video (which I may do). It’s so crazy because no one care more than the victim of crimes to see the criminals face justice, and the technology is in place for things like stolen credit cards or stolen phones but then corporate America gets in the way.

I’d love to have a public platform where victims of crimes could force corporations to playall and publish the facts of these cases and crowdsource the identity of the criminals. Any advice?


> I’d love to have a public platform where victims of crimes could force corporations to playall and publish the facts of these cases and crowdsource the identity of the criminals. Any advice?

Well, it's not exactly crowdsourcing, but the “private injured parties force corporations (or anyone else) to play ball and provide factual evidence related to the identity of wrongdoers” facility exists, and is called “the civil courts”.

File a John Doe lawsuit. Identify the entity in possession of evidence useful for identifying the actual perpetrator and issue a subpoena to that party for the evidence. (You might recognize this from how media companies go after copyright pirates with IP information, but the same can be done for other civil offenses, too.)

You can also publish, in any medium, a request for people to voluntarily provide information for the crowdsourcing part; I'm not sure a special platform helps since you then depend on the informants not only being willing to provide info but being reachable via a dedicated purpose-specific platform, and who is going to do that in advance?


Well I did serve Footlocker notice under Florida Civil Statute to preserve the video and confirmed with the store manager the video exists and the events occurred at that store location.

Before I spend a few hundred dollars more on filing a civil suit just to serve discovery on footlocker, I’d go straight to the store and pay the manager to make me a copy (save myself time and money). Either way filing a civil suit or paying of a store manager is not efficient and it’s costly.

At the end of the day you are telling a criminal victim the answer is in the civil courts...which is wrong. I understand police resources, but I did the investigation for them, someone from their department just needs to send an informal email requesting the video, but they won’t. That is a problem. Say I get the video and even identify the individuals, I can give that to the police too but they don’t have to do anything with it. What then, amend the civil complaint from John Doe to said persons and get a default judgment I’ll never collect on? Rather each have a record for felony grand theft and credit card fraud and get my restitution judgment right from the criminal court.


> Before I spend a few hundred dollars more on filing a civil suit just to serve discovery on footlocker, I’d go straight to the store and pay the manager to make me a copy (save myself time and money).

The manager may be prohibited by policy from taking money for that purpose, and it's not exactly going to remain a secret, so the cost may not be a savings if the manager sets the bribe at a level sufficient to adequste cover his risk.

But, sure, you can do that.

> Say I get the video and even identify the individuals, I can give that to the police too but they don’t have to do anything with it.

Correct.

> What then, amend the civil complaint from John Doe to said persons

Yes, that's rather the point of a John Doe suit.

> and get a default judgment I’ll never collect on?

Well, if you assume the defendants both won't show up and are completely judgement proof, sure, those are both potential outcomes.

> Rather each have a record for felony grand theft and credit card fraud and get my restitution judgment right from the criminal court.

Sure, we'd all prefer a public subsidy of litigation costs, but public law enforcement doesn't have infinite resources, so not every loss, even where a crime is involved, is going to have public resources expended on it.

And you still have the same issues collecting on a restitution judgment as any other judgement, and a criminal conviction and potential incarceration of the defendant isn't going to make it more likely you'll ever be able to collect anything from them.


>Sure, we'd all prefer a public subsidy of litigation costs, but public law enforcement doesn't have infinite resources, so not every loss, even where a crime is involved, is going to have public resources expended on it.

What in the hell are you talking about? Your big takeaway from this conversation is what I would like and other who were victims of crimes where in this thread is that what we want is Subsidize our litigation costs?

Im the victim of a crime, the majority of criminal courts have power to order restitution for a reason...it’s not to subsidize litigation, it’s efficiency of the courts and it actually is a savings for tax payer money. Why pay for a civil and criminal case instead of 1 where things may be resolved globally?

Yes, resources are limited not every crime will be solved. That’s a great political response, it kindly ignores the specific facts of this case, where there is video evidence of grand theft and credit card fraud, but the police won’t muster the energy to write an email to request it. If we don’t have have the resources to email a request for a video (which I believe they do), then a public platform to conduct crowdsourced investigations by the public is more warranted than even I originally believed.

As one lawyer o another, I hope your not the victim of a felony some day and the response from fellow man (or lawyer) isn’t...police don’t have resources to investigate your case, stop trying to subsidize your civil litigation costs, that’s what suing John Doe is for.


> Yes, resources are limited not every crime will be solved

Arrest, pretrial detention or supervision, prosecution, and execution of sentence also cost resources. The resource limitation that leads to choices about which crimes to pursue with public resources isn't just (or even mainly) about solving crimes, which is often a miniscule portion of the cost.

> I hope your not the victim of a felony some day and the response from fellow man (or lawyer) isn’t...police don’t have resources to investigate your case,

I have been, twice, once with overwhelming evidence and once where the perpetrator openly admitted the offense, where the police wouldn't even send someone out, much less pursue the case.

I agree it sucks when it happens. That doesn't mean I can't understsnd why it has to happen with the combination of the array of criminal conduct defined and the resources devoted to law enforcement, and the actual structure of the legal system.


>I have been, twice, once with overwhelming evidence and once where the perpetrator openly admitted the offense, where the police wouldn't even send someone out, much less pursue the case.

Now I see why you’re so bitter. Still others shouldn’t have to face the same fate as you. Did you take your own advice and file a civil suit? If not why, is that a shitty solution also? You didn’t care about the damages so much as being the victim of a crime?

For someone talking about the structure of the legal system though...you have great talking points (that’s not police job; they don’t get paid to solve crimes; that’s your loss not society’s problem, you want to subsidize civil litigation costs). And just like a politician you gloss over everyone else’s point and maintain it’s not for the criminal court...but why then, do criminal courts have power to order restitution? Should the criminal court say sorry...that’s not the legal structure now go see a civil lawyer? Seems to me it’s built into the system for criminal courts to order restitution (which they exercise in every plea I’ve ever seen) and it’s cheaper for the taxpayer to have global resolutions in criminal court (of course that’s well known though) rather than having tax payers pay for both a criminal and civil case.


> Now I see why you’re so bitter.

I'm not the one that is expressing bitterness about this reality.

> Still others shouldn’t have to face the same fate as you.

Sure, in a perfect world there would be no resource constraints. Of course, property crime (and even property itself) probably would be a lot less of an issue in that case.

Scarce resources require tradeoffs. Some property crimes not being pursued is not any where close to the biggest issue to address with that.

> Did you take your own advice and file a civil suit?

No, in both cases the damages were insured with a deductible which made it not worth pursuing that even if it might otherwise have been worthwhile (and in neither case did the insurance company seem interested in litigation, either.)

> they don’t get paid to solve crimes;

I never said that. I said that solving crimes is often a negligible portion of the resource cost of pursuing them, so that the fact that a crime is easy to solve doesn't automatically make it worth pursuing.

> And just like a politician you gloss over everyone else’s point and maintain it’s not for the criminal court

I didn't say that, either.

> but why then, do criminal courts have power to order restitution?

Because, where criminal prosecution already serves the public interest, so does integrating restitution, since the courts are a public resource and economy of justice increases the capacity for any given cost of that resource. That doesn't mean it serves the public interest to prosecute every apparent crime, even when there is a near zero cost to solve the crime.

> rather than having tax payers pay for both a criminal and civil case.

Sure. That clearly is true where otherwise there would be both types of cases. But when the criminal case wouldn't otherwise be worth expending resources on, there is no savings to the public by pursuing criminal process for private restitution.


>I'm not the one that is expressing bitterness about this reality.

Proposing a solution (a crowdsourced public platform for investigating crimes for/with law enforcement) is not bitter. Your response of shitting on the idea and saying civil courts already exist...is seemly bitter about your own experience.

I noticed you didn’t answer my question about your own cases, which makes me think you didn’t follow your own legal advice and pursue anything in civil court. That’s very telling.

>Because, where criminal prosecution already serves the public interest

This is where you begin to sound like a troll...I know you’re not for the record...but what you are doing in this thread is telling victims of crimes, that persecuting these cases doesn’t serve the public interest. Who are you to make that determination?

It would appear you are using a self fulfilling definition...that is if your case isn’t prosecuted then there either aren’t resources or it’s not in the public interest. But that’s not true. First you don’t know what happened factually so you have no idea if it’s in the public interest, and second you have no idea whether there are resources for this crime in this jurisdiction.

And you keep bringing up restitution...that’s the least of my concerns. Can you even set forth a standard for what cases are in the public interest? And can you distinguish why my case isn’t in the public interest? Why weren’t your cases in the public interest?


So this is just anecdotal, but here's my 'running and car broken into story': I parked next to a busy dog park and went for my run. Came back to broken window. There was a lady there who took pictures of the perpetrators and their license plate. I filed a report with the police. Guess what the police did. That's right! Absolutely nothing. Not even swing by the people's house and ask for my shit back (I was cool with paying for the broken window, even).

The idea that this kind of surveillance will be used for your benefit is simply wrong, in my opinion. It's a weapon. How does that NWA song go? The one about the police?


The police serve the state, whose interests may or may not coincide with the individual citizen; they don't exist to make you whole when you've lost something to wrongful acts, though they may sometimes help with that incidentally; that's primarily the role of the civil courts and private litigation.


I call bullshit. This is simply a case of the police not doing their job. I filed a police report. Gave them all the necessary information they need to do their f'ing job. And it wasn't like I was talking to a homicide cop, trying to get them to investigate my car burglary. I literally spoke to the detective in charge of this sort of thing.

How am I supposed to find out the people who I should take to court? I do not have access to the license plate database. I suppose I could take the city to court for... something... but we know how far that will go. That's all a moot point, though. My stuff was pawned/traded/fenced/whatever a few days after it was stolen, max. It's not like I can go through a long litigious process to retrieve the ~$500 in stuff that was taken from me.


Then why am I paying their salaries?


> Then why am I paying their salaries?

You, individually, are not.

Your shared interests with those with whom you are are collectively doing so are, obviously, not coextensive with all of your personal interests, but are a subset of them. Law enforcement serves (ideally) diffuse public interests, acute private interests are served (in the legal realm) by private civil litigation.

Particularly, you (individually, and society collectively) are not paying enough to have adequste police resources to treat every property crime as worthy of any follow-up beyond taking a report after dealing with every other higher priority as determined by the people elected and given the responsibility for setting police priorities; the fact that a crime affects you doesn't make it a higher public priority than if it affected someone else, even if it does make it a higher personal priority for you.

If you don't like the current law enforcement priorities or the resources available at particular priority levels, you can vote for different leaders or (in states that provide citizen initiatives) for different laws setting enforcement priorities directly, or for more resources for police to work farther down the list of priorities.

Or—or just in the meantime—you can avail yourself of the system set up for dealing with private harms that is largely independent of public enforcement priorities.


I'll be sure to remember this noble policesplaining explanation the next time a bond issue or tax bill comes up. Paying for the private administration of justice is not how things are supposed to work in this country.


> Paying for the private administration of justice is not how things are supposed to work in this country.

It may not be how you suppose things should work, but the split between the public system serving public priorities and the civil system redressing individual harms is exactly how things have always been supposed to work, both in this country and in the system on which it's legal system was directly modeled.

Yes, law enforcement advocates often blur this when seeking funding or new powers, claiming they work for victims. Thid has never been the case, which is why criminal prosecutions are “the State vs. defendant” whereas private litigation is “plaintiff vs. defendant”. Public prosecutors and law enforcement represent the State, they aren't publicly subsidized to represent the harmed individual the way, say, a public defender is for the accused.


Had a similar event, only involving a hit and run where eyewitnesses had written down a plate and description of the car.

After a few weeks of getting nothing from the police, we asked to speak to a cop known for how no nonsense and rigid she is. Later that day she informed us it was a county vehicle driven by a county employee that was responsible.


> I’d love to have a public platform where victims of crimes could force corporations to playall and publish the facts of these cases and crowdsource the identity of the criminals. Any advice?

I believe you're thinking of the "discovery" phase of a lawsuit.


It sucks that criminals get away with this crap all the time and I am sorry that happened to you but do you really think releasing videos of alleged criminals to the public is a good idea?

https://www.businessinsider.com/reddit-falsely-accuses-sunil...


Well “alleged” is the right term but obviously there is a difference between crowdsourcing video in an attempt to find the individual(s) who placed the bombs at the Boston marathon and footlockers cctv video of two men attempting to make purchases using my credit card/debit card.

Never mind the story you linked, because I don’t think it is directly applicable to these facts, but what makes releasing such video of men using my stolen credit/debit cards a bad idea?


The cops don’t care because it’s a lot of work with little or no outcome.

I had a guy steal deliveries over a period of months and was able to get the video on the TV news. The cops were awesome — they caught him and plead it to petty larceny with a $150 fine. I probably spent more money on vacation time to talk to the cops, parole officer, DA, etc.


This at Medium seems relevant from an Amazon employee on the facial recognition aspect of this.

https://medium.com/s/story/im-an-amazon-employee-my-company-...


Nice, efficient, low-friction slide into fascism.


> "Nice, efficient, low-friction"

^ Completely adequate description - especially low-friction

Won't need to force people to do something they'll willingly do themselves (e.g., police each other via their ignorance in regards to IoT devices and their use)


A ring for every room citizen.


After all, if you've got nothing to hide, why wouldn't you let the police watch a video feed from inside your house?

You don't have anything to hide, do you, citizen?

/s


This type of stuff is specifically why I bought a Doorbird, which is very privacy conscious and made in Germany. Also, Doorbird has public API docs (it is just a bad http "REST-ish" API): https://www.doorbird.com/api

It made it much easier to integrate with Home Assistant: https://www.home-assistant.io/components/doorbird/

Bonus points that the Doorbird is of a much higher build quality than the Ring or Ring Pro.


original article with link to marketing video dropbox https://www.officer.com/command-hq/technology/computers-soft...


This seems fairly reasonable, as long as they keep the commitment that officers have to request videos from camera owners. Now, in theory, the PD could subpoena videos from ring without permission, but that's a higher bar than this.


Your statement reads in a pretty funny way:

> This seems fairly reasonable...

> ...as long as they keep the commitment...

I mean, I feel as if everything seems reasonable as long as the original commitment is kept. Thing is, the original commitment is rarely if ever kept at all. This is nothing more than a problem waiting to happen, as are most things where large bureaucracies involve themselves.

Once I read that the data is completely unencrypted (oh, I can do a man-in-the middle and just send my own backend a copy of this video stream? awesome!) and anyone's face (i.e., those simply walking by) could potentially be recorded, I pretty much gave up any hope of this working responsibly.

But hey, just read another comment about Walmart apparently sending surveillance video to the Feds (which sounds like a very Walmart thing to do actually), so apparently we have larger issues to deal with.


If I was Amazon or any other security cam company, my biggest fear would be government using my equipment to spy on customers. Because if that ever became public, it would kill adoption. If I was Amazon, I'd be lobbying to codify protections against warrantless surveillance and mass pulls of data.


Why not just design a system where you do not have access to the data? Using symmetric encryption it's possible for you to create a system where only the end customer can decrypt any of the data. Because of the mathematics involved it's effectively impossible for you to respond to a subpoena and law enforcement must make requests of each customer individually.


You'll lose lots of functionality since the provider just becomes dumb storage. I am not sure how you would even do machine learning on the data, you can't put it on the device unless it had its own massive storage and rings are just dumb battery powered cameras. You'll need a host device to crunch data before shipping it off to cloud for storage.


I see a lot of comments about how this is "opt-in". By definition, all of the videos that officers can see the existence of through this portal exist on Ring's servers, not on some individually-owned machine.

So if you decline to "share" your video with the police, they can just request it from Ring, who won't and can't decline to share. You won't be notified.


Trippy. So what google is offering in China might already be for sale by Amazon here in the US.


Anyone can download the Ring app and view this same content. You don't even need to own a Ring device, your phone just needs to geolocate to the area you say you live in.


Ring customer here. I recently shared a video of crime on my property using the neighborhoods feature. I also downloaded the video to my phone, in order to email a copy of it to cops who asked for it (and apparently don't participate in the portal described here). The offender was subsequently caught thanks to the video, and the cops recovered my property for me.

The opt-in is limited to per video shared, as far as I've been led to believe and in my experience. I'd be quite alarmed to learn anyone could access anything I haven't designated without that specific sharing step on my part.


A good reminder that with connected devices, your level of privacy is dynamic and can change with a single line of code.


If you've been scammed or if you are in need of a certified hacker contact this guy Captain Spy on this e-mail address.....captainspyhacker2 @gmailCOM I found him useful when many acknowledge his service and how he had helped them with their hack job on Quora. I got his email and decided to hit him up. His response was fast and quickly I told him what I wanted. He did it earlier than the hours he gave. I got him other jobs; credit score score upgrade, my wife's phone hack, build a site and also clear criminal records and all was a success throughout. You can really trust him for a good captainspyhacker2 @ gmailCOM


The vertical market solutions are worse.

My cities redlight camera system records 24x7 and retains for 30 days. All data is local and the camera is internet accessible.


Isn't this an opt in feature? I understand free reign police surveillance is bad, but if a customer opts in, I don't see the issue?


My neighbor has such a doorbell. My facial data is captured every time I come over or walk by with my dog. When was I given an opportunity to consent to this?


In the United States, your consent is not needed to film you in places with no expectation of privacy.


While technically true, this doctrine came from a time when cameras were far less common than they are today (by orders of magnitude), and when facial recognition software didn't even exist as a concept (outside of science fiction).

Given those two very significant changes, it's probably worth re-evaluating the doctrine itself.


snip


> You want to re-evaluate the first amendment?

I don't.

> You don't want freedom of press?

I do.

> Let me guess. You also want to abolish the second amendment.

I don't.

> Why don't you just move to somewhere they don't have those rights. Like in south america. They don't have guns, free speech, anything like that. Like brazil, venezuela, or ecuador.

It's almost like you deliberately chose the least charitable interpretation of my point to avoid rebutting the actual argument I was making.

Here's an example of a doctrine that likely wouldn't run afoul of the first amendment (impinging on neither freedom of speech, the press, or religion). These also likely wouldn't impinge on the second amendment, nor steer us towards economic disaster:

* You can record in a public place

* You cannot use facial recognition software on the recording without the consent of those that were recorded

* Provide some limited exceptions to the above for small-scale private purposes or academic research


What an extreme comment. We need to reevaluate the concept of privacy. What does that have to do with freedom of press, guns or Venezuela?


I think this is an area where the constitution needs an update to reflect current technology. With the possibility of entities doing complete surveillance of the whole public space we need to refine the concept of privacy. I don't think it's acceptable that the only place where people are protected from surveillance and have privacy is their home.


We may need a new philosophy of privacy to account for big data analysis.

This feels related to the question of identification by DNA in large databases. It's pretty clear I own my own DNA, but if enough of my relatives upload their own that an association map of information about me can be discerned without my consent? What right do I have to prevent that?

Currently, pretty much none. Should I have one?


That my consent isn't legally necessary doesn't mean that this application of technology is ethical or good for society.


False. It depends on how invasive the recording was, how recognizable you are and how the recording is used (e.g. using it for advertising).


That's misleading. It's only if you're famous and the image is being used for profit. And even then it's pretty nebulous.


Also in the United States, you have the right to video-record anything you can see from where you are if you have the right to be present. You have the right to record any happenings on or in your dwelling and its curtilage. There is no question whatsoever that everyone has the right to mount a doorbell camera and do whatever they like with the recordings.

The only exception is that if you are not in a single-party consent state, you might not be able to record the audio. It is unlikely that a legally protected conversation would be happening in mic range of the camera, though.


But what if we changed those laws?

We could, for example, make it such that you can continue to record, but that those recordings couldn't be used as input to facial recognition software without the consent of the person being recorded.

Just because you _currently_ can do something legally does not mean that it _must_ be that way.


You cannot abridge freedom of expression without an amendment. Nor can you abridge freedom of computation.

You should perhaps instead endeavor to strike down anti-mask laws as being contrary to existing freedoms. The logical counter to automated facial recognition technology is facial concealment practices. It is the least harmful to liberty.

Alternatively, we could all wear--with our masks on--t-shirts with other people's faces printed onto them (especially Batman's face). And we can, of course, ban the government from using facial recognition technology without a specific, limited reason for doing so.

Just because I can record you from my porch and identify your face as appearing often, doesn't mean I would be able to tie that image in to a compulsory national identity database with facial photograph data included. Individuals might instead be able to identify a face as "John Doe #154" on their own server, and maybe match it to "YourMetroArea Serial Package Thief #15" on neighborhood-watch.net . Maybe I can set up an alert if any of the shared criminal faces show up and get recognized, or I can voluntarily forward my video to the cops when an incident actually happens. Giving cops unrestricted access to everyone's raw feeds is a bad, bad, bad idea. You bring in the cops only when it is apparent that a crime has been committed, an identifiable individual is responsible, and there is now a tangible reason to deanonymize the culprit.


What's wrong with an amendment? I don't want to live in a world where I have to wear a face mask to get some privacy. And they will probably soon not even need faces but recognize you from your height and the way you walk.


Nothing, in theory, but I don't think any amendment can get enough legislature votes to pass and be ratified right now, and the Powers That Be are absolutely terrified of what might come out of a Constitutional Convention. Anything could happen: gun control, equal rights for women, gay marriage, abortion rights, a requirement that presidents must divest all businesses and show tax returns prior to inauguration, right to strong encryption without back doors or key escrow, technology privacy and personal data ownership... anything.

So then we'll need masks and privacy-enhancing shoes.


What if the camera field of view was strictly confined to a neighbor's front door and facial recognition was used to log every visitor; all of which was freely available on the internet to any person?


Is there a source for this claim?

In major cities, there are multiple cameras at every traffic light intersection, and some even focus on the pedestrian crossing.


In most places those cameras don’t record anything. They’re used for traffic signaling to avoid having to embed sensors in the roadway.

https://www.peektraffic.com/products_video_detection.php


When were you given an opportunity to consent to your relatives uploading their own DNA to ancestry.com?

Ownership of one's own DNA information is not quite as blurry as surveillance camera footage, but if it's capturing activity happening in a public place or on the camera owner's property? Yeah, ownership of that information is still pretty blurry.


You effectively consent to the possibility of surveillance every time you go outside your home, office, or anywhere with a "reasonable expectation of privacy".


Surveillance is not always mass surveillance.

CCTVs are one thing. Giant companies and government entities automating the tracking of people in other countries is another.


Yeah, it looks like:

1. Users opt to share video clips

2. Police can't view unshared videos without requesting

3. The whole thing is opt-in

I don't see an issue here. It's a technical framework around something that already exists: police going door-to-door and asking for video clips. Why not make this more efficient?

I can see the potential for abuse, as it is all centralized. But I think "portal for mass surveillance" is a bit of an exaggeration.


> I can see the potential for abuse

But that is the problem. The potential exists, and without proper governance and oversight, you don't have the ability as a citizen to walk back abuse when it begins to occur. You only have the options of submitting to continued abuse, moving to a more sane locale, or the uphill political battle of defending your rights.

Authoritarianism is a slow boil, and doesn't happen overnight (usually; occasionally it does!).


I agree with your point. To elaborate my position, once one builds an opt-in surveillance network, it only requires a shift in public policy to remove the opt-in nature. You would have to have strong confidence in the safeguards against such a thing -- mainly the court system siding with privacy, which is not a sure thing historically speaking.

I would cooperate with the police to help solve an actual crime, but I certainly would not opt in to this. I would even go one step further and say that I likely wouldn't buy this product at all.

I would prefer home automation systems that have basically no cloud infrastructure. It is unfortunate that, if such a thing even exists, it is poorly marketed.


>moving to a more sane locale,

The last frogs out of the pot before it boils always find whatever pot they migrate to to be far too cold for their taste and insist upon turning up the burner.

Relocating only buys time. At some point you have to make a stand if the problem is to be solved. The culture that tolerates authoritarianism and paternalistic government needs to actively be stopped if we want to see it relegated to history textbooks. You can't just keep moving away from it.


However, are we throwing the baby of crowd-sourced neighborhood policing opted into by residents (essentially, a digitally-assisted neighborhood watch) with the bathwater of potential for abuse?

What are the actual abuse scenarios that we would fear could occur?

These technologies aren't either-or; they're a tradeoff of possible benefits and drawbacks. What concrete drawbacks should we be concerned with here?


> What are the actual abuse scenarios that we would fear could occur?

Abuse by police for non-official business (stalking). Targeting of individual citizens and their daily activities because they attempt to hold public officials accountable. Constant surveillance of the wrong individuals. All off the top of my head from events that have occurred ("ripped from the headlines"). I could go on, but only because I take time to hold my public officials and government accountable as a hobby.

It is deeply unsettling, based on history (not just global, local US history alone), when technology professionals retort to issues like this with, "What's the big deal?"


Is that tradeoff worth seeing many, many fewer Amazon packages stolen wholesale from front porches?

... if you ask around, you may find the average neighborhood resident's answer is "yes." Especially if one finds the average neighborhood citizen isn't living under a corrupt police hierarchy, but instead an underfunded / understaffed one.


If you're willing to trade your privacy and security for reduced Amazon package theft, I'm unable to reason with you as my neighbor.


Sounds like you live in one of the neighborhoods that doesn't have a rampant theft problem, but okay. ;)

FWIW, the bias I approach this from is that we can't order packages delivered to my relatives because petty theft is so rampant in their area that packages will, on average, go missing. And the police are too underfunded to do anything about the new trend of theft right now. This technology would be life-changing in terms of convenience to them; it's a non-trivial expenditure of resources to schlep out to an Amazon pickup center of the post office to get anything large.


> Sounds like you live in one of the neighborhoods that doesn't have a rampant theft problem, but okay. ;)

My neighborhood does have the occasional Amazon package theft. Why do you assume consumer convenience is so important compared to fundamental rights?

> it's a non-trivial expenditure of resources to schlep out to an Amazon pickup center of the post office to get anything large.

This doesn't excuse the implementation of a surveillance machine.


Where you see "consumer convenience," I see "breakdown of law and order" that this technology could help ameliorate.

I think we're just coming at this from different biases. You see the risk of abuse of power as much, much higher than street crime (if I take your "occasional" literally, then I humbly suggest you haven't experienced it to the level my relatives have). I see the threat of street crime as much, much higher than risk of abuse of power (because while those abuses do happen, they are so rare relative to the street crime this system could prevent that it's a viable tradeoff).


I agree.


The only abuse scenario I’ve seen on the app so far myself is people of color continually having their images shared as suspicious while walking down the sidewalk. Maybe that says more about my area than anything, but that’s a potential problem.

That, and a lady posted a photo of a vehicle and license plate that she followed several days after a recent minor crime was associated with a vehcile of the same make and color. Not sure if it ended up being the vehicle, but this should’ve only been shared with law enforcement since it could’ve been anyone’s car that happened to be similar.


Risk of increasing efficiency of racism is definitely a concern. On the plus side, an audit trail dataset of "suspicious person" neighborhood reports coupled with some racial-identification of the subjects in the images would be a concrete dataset to demonstrate structural racism to the (still-existant) nonbelievers in the phenomenon.


The technologies aren't either/or, but the implementation, control, and regulations are.

I'm all for neighborhoods policing themselves, but this isn't even close to that.

I would be fine with there being additional tools that assist the individual consumer with reporting crimes or providing video evidence to police. Amazon/Ring/whoever doesn't need to be involved with what is a local/neighborhood issue.


> Amazon/Ring/whoever doesn't need to be involved with what is a local/neighborhood issue

In what way? Who on Earth is going to set up and maintain those tools, pay for the hardware, provide service channels for the hardware, etc.?

Technological sophistication is by no means uniformly distributed.


I don't take issue with them making the hardware and selling a product. I have an issue with them being so heavily involved with the police side of things.

There's a big difference between a feature that allows consumers to report a video and a feature that allows police to demand a video.


But they are both features that have to be implemented, and they'll be implemented sooner if done by the same org.

If we have no problem with the police having the tool at all, why would it be bad for Amazon to implement it?

(Unless the issue is you don't think the police should have the tool at all, in which case the question is "Who should? Can private citizens be trusted with this information aggregation? Can private citizens' designated / elected representatives? Or should we just make sharing of private video feeds for surveillance purposes illegal, uh... somehow?").


(Also, FWIW, "request to voluntarily divulge video" is not the same as "demand").



[flagged]


It also boggles the mind why some think that this sort of interaction is the kind that brings others over to one's “side”. But in any case this kind of comment doesn't belong on Hacker News, so could you please post civilly and substantively instead?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This is an unhelpful comment. Rather than attacking chrisfosterelli you could explain your point of view.


Probably because they also see 10,000 years of governments and citizens generally muddling along okay, most of the time?


The fact that you immediately jumped to personal attacks demonstrates that you don't have a valid argument.


Just another example of the utter amorality of the silicon valley mindset–which has been exported globally. Everybody cares about what they can achieve technically, while virtually no one cares whether they should or not.


I use the Ring security system at home and own a couple of the cameras. The security "history" feature is dirt simple but very cool -- I can trivially see when I use different doors in my house.

The Ring smartphone app also shows me the Neighbors view for my area, which is very similar to this product being advertised here (a feed of locations, comments, and videos posted by smart device owners and others). I think probably every software company of a certain size builds a law enforcement portal, very standard feature.

My favorite part about the Ring Neighbors section of the app is that it provides clear evidence of widespread lawbreaking by people who have voluntarily disclosed their identities.

Specifically, Ring's cameras automatically record audio and cannot be configured to disable the audio recording. (I e-mailed their founder a while back and he said "soon" they'll ship a way to disable this.)

In my jurisdiction, audio recording without the consent of all people who are recorded is illegal. Disclosing an illegally made audio recording is another, separate crime. The law in my jurisdiction is extremely clear: if you do not have the consent of all parties and you disclose the recording; the maximum jail term is two years. Merely putting up a sign that says "there is a camera recording the street near my house and if you walk in front of it I'll be audio recording you" does not count as obtaining consent -- everyone actually has to acknowledge that they knew they were being audio recorded.

Now, police are free to choose not to arrest people for committing this crime. And prosecutors are free to choose not to prosecute people who break the law in this way.

This crime is actually prosecuted, albeit rarely (I think). But … sometimes the crime is prosecuted because people complain that they were wiretapped. One of the reasons we want to set up security cameras is there's someone we're afraid of who has threatened to harass us in the past and we want to know they aren't coming around. If they came by our house, saw that we had Ring cameras, and talked in front of them, they could actually complain to local police that we are wiretapping them, and this would at the last cause us a major headache. So while we own some Ring cameras, we are afraid to use them.

Meanwhile, by using the Ring cameras in their standard configuration, and by sharing videos with the Neighbors feature, people are often explicitly committing a crime. And by signing up for Ring accounts and in many cases paying Ring money, people are making it easy to tie their identities to the crime.

This Neighbors law enforcement portal gives police a simple, handy map of all the people in my area who are breaking the law in a major way. They aren't using it yet. If they ever decide to step up enforcement of this law, they will have a handy pool of targets.


What jurisdiction is this? Generally two-party consent laws have an explicit exemption for places where you don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and exemptions for recording on your own private property. There can also be different standards depending on whether you are taking the pictures for commercial use or not. I'm curious what jurisdiction has a blanket ban on audio recordings without consent, no exceptions.


This is MA. Unlike nearly everywhere in the US, the state does not have the common-sense exemptions for "you should have known you were being recorded because [you were on a public street|you should have seen the sticker on my window]". See Commonwealth v. Jackson, 370 Mass. 502 (1976), saying that the MGL 272 sec 99 prohibition on "secret" recording is so broad that it is possible to "secretly" record someone even if they do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

While the law is rarely enforced, it is quite strict. Areas which have been explored recently involve whether or not it's okay to record the police, including a case of someone who argued she should have been allowed to secretly record her own arrest. Whether or not you're allowed to record strangers on the street without their consent has not been explicitly tested in this way, but I would rather not be a test case.

(One local nonprofit, MassLandlords, has thought about this issue a bit and decided to recommend avoiding security cameras with always-on audio for this reason - https://masslandlords.net/beware-of-cameras-that-record-audi... . The general consensus is that local law is full of untested areas which seem awfully broad; see e.g. https://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/massachusett... ; but I don't want to be the one to help clarify the boundaries.)


Ah, I didn't know MA didn't have an exemption for public locations.


I don't think IL does, either. It's why when local TV stations do undercover stories, it's always video only — no audio.


>Now, police are free to choose not to arrest people for committing this crime. And prosecutors are free to choose not to prosecute people who break the law in this way.

We have many decades of data indicating that relying on police discretion breeds corruption and unfair treatment of marginalized groups (i.e minorities).


Can't you just block the mic somehow?


Exactly. This feels like a feature that can be disabled with a steady hand and a power-drill.

But I expect there's still a trap here for customers who don't know their local laws and buy these items thinking it's compliant with local ordinances. OP's comment is reasonable.


It does seem like you should be able to find the mic and cover it enough to effectively disable audio, but I wasn't able to figure it out in 10 min and worried that whatever I did might not be permanent.

I couldn't find any disassembly/DIY repair guides or teardowns for the Ring Cam products so I'm not sure I'd know what I was doing when looking to cut the mic. (I have thought about doing this before with other consumer hardware, like disabling an always-on buzzer on a dryer.)

Some products (e.g. fellow Amazon subsidiary Blink) offer this feature in software but I don't know of any consumer-grade security cameras that have an explicitly supported hardware off switch.


I mean, you can always hack the hardware. As long as you don't short-circuit anything, disabling the microphone should be trivial.


[flagged]


A shill account that talks about how the product violates local laws and that feature cannot be disabled? That's definitely a new one.


I'm a semi frequent user here. I registered a new account for this comment thread because my username is easily tied to my identity and I mentioned in my comment there's someone we're afraid of who has threatened to harass us in the past. That person has used my web presence for harassment before and I don't want to give them more ammo.


Yeah, I totally get setting up another account for sensitive things.


Not a very good shill:

Ring's cameras automatically record audio and cannot be configured to disable the audio recording.


Could you please refresh your memory of the guidelines? They ask you not to post like this.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


This is not at all what the title makes it sound like - this is merely a portal for law enforcement in to what is in essence a social network feed. There’s nothing to be seen here that isn’t already publicly shared by Ring camera owners - heck, it’s not even stuff that people are sharing privately. People share this stuff on Ring because they want someone to get recognized or caught for committing a crime (or a perceived one).


The majority of people who I know who have all encompassing security systems are conservative and xenophobic. This system is ripe for abuse by racists and racist organizations. When private camera systems feed into state power, some very bad things are setup to occur.


You should really expand your circle of friends beyond conservatives and xenophobics.

Most of the people I know who have cameras use them to make sure their kids get home safe on time, or keep an eye on the dog in the backyard.


That is an uncharitable, low-comprehension reading of my first sentence. Didn't say they were friends, and the phrase "all encompassing", isn't for the folks looking after the dog.


I'd love to have this. It's certainly a lot easier than the process that I had to go through asking my neighbors to check their cameras for a mail thief (which police and postal inspectors didn't even bother to request).


I get a "404 That file isn’t here anymore" Error message.


Same here. Does anyone have a mirror?


Nextdoor is going to have a ball with this one


If most Nextdoor members understood the implications, it would be great. But most people have no problem giving away their information.


Something similar to this which I think has gone totally unreported is that large chains like Walmart are feeding their security cameras in real-time to the US government, which is being used to find and track wanted criminals.

Edit: Most of the above is speculation based on stuff I've been observing over the past few years. I don't have any evidence that the system exists, or that it is real-time.


Do you have substantive links supporting that real-time claim?


Nope, I'm making some assumptions, I'll edit my comment to that effect. This came to my attention when a news article about an abduction mentioned he was caught on Walmart security cameras. Usually these are tied to a credit card purchase, but this person was said to have paid in cash, so it piqued my interest. There's also a huge settlement Walmart had with the US government that was quickly followed by a big improvement in their security systems. I'm getting real close to tin-foil hat territory, and I acknowledge that :)


Also, cities do it. They have real-time feeds from traffic cams. Phoenix comes to mind. Every big-block, every direction at the intersection, relatively high resolution realtime video feed.


Ok so I'm not following the argument that this is for "mass surveillance" as if this is some gov't intrusion. I understand you might not want to be recorded walking through my neighborhood but hear me out...

I have several ring cams and their home security system, I'm also part of "ring neighborhoods". I live in a city with a lot of home break ins (we're number 11 in the US for robberies). With the neighborhoods feature I get alerts from my neighbors when they share videos from their ring cams. I haven't yet shared anything but I do comment on shared videos. I have an entirely different camera system on my property which records everything that happens outside my home because I have that right in this state. What I don't understand about this is how is me sharing video clips from my secondary camera system any different than this portal for ring neighborhoods?

I'm not seeing the problem here.

Lets take it to the extreme...

Assuming every home in my neighborhood had ring cams, and you wandered on to someone's personal property, and you were recorded, and they chose to share that video, why is that a problem? This is individual property owners choosing to surveil their property and share that video. We have that right.

Furthermore I hope ring is indexing the faces. There's several videos from my neighborhood of people casing homes. They ring the doorbell and when they see no one is home they jiggle the door handle (criminals are stupid, there's a Ring cam right there). Thieves have been recorded breaking into cars and homes but police struggle to identify the individuals. How is us, as home owners and renters, banding together to identify criminals in our neighborhood and willingly sharing that data with police a problem?

I'm confused.


> Furthermore I hope ring is indexing the faces. There's several videos from my neighborhood of people casing homes. They ring the doorbell and when they see no one is home they jiggle the door handle (criminals are stupid, there's a Ring cam right there). Thieves have been recorded breaking into cars and homes but police struggle to identify the individuals. How is us, as home owners and renters, banding together to identify criminals in our neighborhood and willingly sharing that data with police a problem?

Can you really not see the potential for issues here? Especially when it will be software making the determination for what constitutes "casing" and "suspicious behavior"? What happens if: I go to visit my friend and get mistakenly labeled as "suspicious" in the Ring network. Later I'm seen walking near the scene of a crime. I'm now a person of interest for no reason. And this is a pretty tame example that doesn't touch on deliberate misuse, ex Ring compiling and selling data on a persons movements throughout the day. There are so many ways this can accidentally and deliberately be misused.


The local uses are not the problem. The problem is that neither Ring nor you can really protect against the larger abuses enabled by this: * Racial profiling: Anybody of incorrect race can be automatically reported, then harassment drone can be deployed. * Government directed assassinations are made much easier. If your government wants you dead, you literally cannot go anywhere.

For places with well functioning governments this is all mostly alright. But for places without well functioning governments the expansion of the surveillance sphere becomes pretty much everywhere. Is there a happy ending here? Not likely. But that's not your fault, I totally understand the desire to deploy Ring and kick home intruders and package thieves to the curb.




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