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Ring has partnered with 400 police forces (washingtonpost.com)
139 points by catacombs 52 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 141 comments

This headline leaves out an important detail from the article:

> Officers don’t receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email

It's not as if the police are pulling a Batman and watching every ring simultaneously, but instead they can do the digital equivalent of going door-to-door and asking "Hey, did you catch footage of your neighbors house being broken into last night?"

Frankly, I actually trust a bunch of random citizens to have video footage more than I trust any company or government organization.

With previous generations of home security systems, the recordings were stored in an on-premises hard drive. Ring doesn't give you that option, all video is stored on their cloud, "for the customer's convenience" of course.

The result of that is the random citizens won't have much leverage to say no, because the police can likely figure out a way to get the video from Ring directly.

> because the police can likely figure out a way to get the video from Ring directly

That's quite the legal or technical assumption.

There was an article just a few days ago about the CEO of a genetic testing company handing over information to the FBI.

It doesn't seem a reach at all for the FBI or state or local police to ask for or subpoena stored footage.

Search warrants are 100% routine and Amazon must comply with hundreds? of them daily.

The same is true if you don’t run your own local email server and use gmail.

> Ring said it would not provide user video footage in response to a subpoena, but would comply if company officials were presented with a search warrant or felt they had a legal obligation to produce the content. [Emphasis mine]

That's them basically saying, "Even if turns out we could have fought that request in court and won, we still don't want to get sued, so we want the benefit of the doubt for complying with any and all requests".

That's an unfortunate bit of general lack of company accountability to users instead of shareholders, and until we establish stronger digital rights for consumers, won't change, whether it's your ring footage or Grandma's chili recipe in google drive.

In what jurisdiction is a subpoena not a legal obligation?

> It's not as if the police are pulling a Batman and watching every ring simultaneously

I have serious doubts this can't happen with a keystroke if deemed necessary to protect citizens from imminent danger or terrorism. It's cynical but we also thought there was no chance the government was spying on all Americans telecommunications either.

I mean, yeah, probably, but on the scale that organizations like the NSA operate on, making deals with smaller IoT manufacturers like Ring is pretty inefficient. They’d probably rather just use that keystroke to pull the video straight out of whatever cloud object storage Ring relies on, in a way that’s generic to many IoT video-capture devices by many manufacturers, such that their software can pull all those assets in at once.

Smaller iot manufacturers like... Amazon

It's not really random citizens that have the footage though, it's Google. I don't want to slippery slope too far, but we've been shown time and time again that data in private hands is essentially also in government hands. You only have to look back at whisleblowers/leaks in the past decade to see that this is true. Worse yet, with techniques like parallel construction, it could be many, many years until you know the truth.

Isn't Ring owned by Amazon, not Google?

Didn't have my coffee yet. Yes, Amazon. Doesn't really change my point.


I agree, and would add on that anytime data is centralized under control of any one actor – public or private – this is would be the case.

> This headline leaves out an important detail from the article:

No it doesn't, headlines aren't required to include every detail in the article. That's what the article as a whole is for. Pedantic objections to headlines are not useful or conducive to discussion, since they suggest an element of bad faith in the reporting that isn't present and bias discussion with the untoward accusation.

I doubt the resident get to learn what the request is for. So that footage might incriminate the resident, a family member,betc. Awks.

Also, how might a corrupt officer abuse this system?

How might criminals exploit this system?

How might Ring stuff up, and provide unauthorised access?

How might a secret court demand Ring provide access?

> and homeowners can decline the requests

And is it opt-in or opt-out?

Edit: actually, this is by request as stated in the article

A̶ ̶s̶y̶s̶t̶e̶m̶ ̶w̶h̶e̶r̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶p̶o̶l̶i̶c̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶s̶k̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶m̶e̶r̶a̶ ̶o̶w̶n̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶a̶c̶c̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶p̶e̶c̶i̶f̶i̶c̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶ ̶r̶a̶n̶g̶e̶ ̶w̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶t̶r̶u̶s̶t̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶n̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶g̶i̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶m̶a̶n̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶a̶c̶c̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶m̶e̶r̶a̶ ̶f̶o̶o̶t̶a̶g̶e̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶o̶u̶t̶ ̶l̶i̶m̶i̶t̶s̶.̶

I would also not trust a system recording videos of my life and sending them on remote server that I have not access to.

My ring camera caught a murderer breaking a door down last year and it's been a headache for me ever since. Even though I didnt actually see the murder,I've been called to several depositions and had to take three unpaid weeks off of work because of trial stuff. It's so frustrating. All I say everytime, is "Yes, I own the camera" I regret ever buying it at this point.

At the risk of being glib, your headache and frustrations seem trivial in the context of the crime you're mentioning.

At equal risk of being glib, I don't think the purchase of consumer electronics should put you on the hook for weeks of depositions for a crime you didn't personally witness. I believe that would the literal manifestation of "that's not what I signed up for". Here's the MP4 file, now go away.

What if you were a random witness? You didn't sign up for that either. You have certain civic obligations which are enforced by law. I assume in these types of cases, you could be held in contempt if you wouldn't respond voluntarily.

It's unfortunate for the person involved and the incentives in the system are such that no one is trying to make efficient use of their time. But that's pretty much the way it is.

It's not really that different from being seated on a multi-week jury trial much less a possibly multi-month grand jury.

Maybe we shouldn't construct a society where your obligations to your employer are at odds with you helping society find justice for a murder victim. This is a great example of how atomized our society has become.

I'm honestly not sure what that means.

Many large companies tend to be pretty flexible with respect to things like jury duty. But, to say that even a small business needs to keep paying full salary for someone who is out for weeks or longer (and even if they have to hire a temporary replacement) is probably not realistic.

Per diems for things like jury duty should arguably be higher. But there's no world in which, say, a Silicon Valley software developer is going to be paid their regular daily salary with benefits.

As I wrote elsewhere, it would be nice if everyone involved were more respectful of the time being put in by unpaid or nominally paid participants. But that's no one's priority.

In Germany the state pays your lost salary when you are required to be in court as a witness.

We don't have the American jury system so times in court tend to be way shorter. But non the less. If society here needs my support it is giving back something as well.

Not that in the one case were I was entitled to compensation I ever asked for it. Because I feel it was my civic duty. But then - I am in the lucky position to be able to afford this sentiment.

'atomization' describes a social phenomenon of mass strategic isolation, though one which requires additional reading rather than being easily definable here.

Anyway, why shouldn't a business of any size continue to pay people? Just treat employee absences as a minor insurable risk, or press for adequate compensation for witnesses and jurors by restructuring the tax system.

Passively accepting bad things guarantees you will get more of them.

> But there's no world in which, say, a Silicon Valley software developer is going to be paid their regular daily salary with benefits.

Why not? The proportion of people involved in a trial at any given time must be so small that replacing their salaries would be a relatively minor drag on companies if it was distributed well.

What they should do is allow the business to deduct that employee's salary from the taxes they owe while that employee is fulfilling a public need.

This is actually an interesting idea. I'd say (only half tongue-in-cheek) that then maybe we can tax companies heavily for all IP lawsuits they engage in so compensate for the massive money cost to citizens that the system of circular patent trolling creates.

One thing i can say that i dont think was said here is that you're right that some large companies are very flexible in this way. It's a good thing we have their permission to participate in the justice system! In my experience, however, almost all smaller companies have a culture of sharing tips on how to avoid being selected for jury duty that is actively encouraged by ownership and management. It's worth remembering this when people issue blanket statements about how consumers should prefer small businesses over large ones because of some vague notion that they're more beneficial to "the community."

What if you were a random witness?

I'm not, I'm a random person in possession of a consumer electronics device that might have a video recording of the crime in question. No need for depositions, everything I know is in this MP4 file, and now that I have transferred the file to you, LEO, you know everything I know. Further interrogation will gain you nothing but my contempt.

It's not really that different from being seated on a multi-week jury trial much less a possibly multi-month grand jury.

Forget ballparks, it's not even the same sport.

The problem here is that the leave is unpaid.

I've been informed recently that the employer in Germany has to compensate for the leave and will be reimbursed later. This sounds too good to be true though.

At the risk of being glib, I don’t think much can be done about the crime at this point.

I imagine if you saw the person enter the house and not your camera, the results would be similar: depositions, time away from work, etc?

The question is, in this particular case, did the camera help identify an otherwise unknown suspect?

That's not equivalent. In one case you need a human testifying because the memory of the events are stored in their brain that's inaccessible to any other form of retrieval besides giving a deposition.

In the other case, the camera caught it on a digital format thats accessible by literally anyone living in the 21st century.

That's not how trials work.

Someone has to testify that yes, they installed the camera on X date, yes, the date/time stamp is accurate, yes, it was working the last time they checked, yes, the video in question was recovered, yes, the video was transferred to the prosecutors office, no, the video was not modified to the best of my recollection.

Saying "hey, I have this mp4 that proves the murder" doesn't work in court.

Cloud storage provides de facto answers to most of those questions as far as the property owner is concerned.

How exactly? The cloud has a copy of a video from a camera with a given IP associated with a given account.

That doesn’t prove where the camera footage was taken. Or who owns it. Lots of unanswered questions that the defense could use to raise doubts about it.


The "issue" in this case is probably that the prosecutor wants to do everything in his power to maximize the probability of a successful prosecution based on the available evidence even if it means taking three weeks of someone's time rather than making do with a simple notarized statement.

And the defense wants to do everything is his power to throw roadblocks in the way of the prosecution even if it means wasting three weeks of some third party's time.

Nowhere are there any incentives to make things efficient for someone if doing so could hurt your case by even a little bit.

Courts have this rigid rule that whitness must be given in court even if it had been given before, possibly in retrial, too.

Not sure what country you are in, but that's called civic duty, and helps society work.

Why can't society compensate this person fairly for his help?

As others say, society does to some degree, but isn't the real compensation for such things living in a society where people help each other in these circumstances? Not everything has to be a financial transaction.

It can. He should be able to invoice the DA for his time. The taxpayers (society) foots the bill.

As someone who just served Jury Duty in the USA. I can tell you the 'bill' for my services was barely minimum wage.

Last time I got called for jury duty (but didn't get chosen), I forget what the per diem rate was but basically it wouldn't have covered parking (or at least not by much).

Jury Duty is not the same as being served a subpoena for the prosecution.

Fortunately it's incredibly easy to get eliminated during the selection process if you know how to answer the questions

Then we end up with a jury that has only people that have nothing better to do

I purposefully decided not to attempt to use a bunch of excuses to get out of it actually, because I was interested in the experience.

And without lying / perjuring yourself either. Telling the selective truth is enough :)

How is them going to court a civic duty ?

You could testify once that this is your camera and here are the mp4 files (and their sha sum). And that would be it.

Equally, technically they didn't see anything as the video caught by the camera could actually be made up.

>How is them going to court a civic duty ?

Imagine if it was you or a loved one that was murdered and a neighbor's camera caught the suspect breaking into the house.

>You could testify once that this is your camera and here are the mp4 files (and their sha sum). And that would be it.

This is just how the rules of evidence work (also equal protection and due process), you can't just submit video, there needs to be testimony to introduce the video into evidence. Further, the defendant has a constitutional right to cross examine the person who introduces the video into evidence.

>Equally, technically they didn't see anything as the video caught by the camera could actually be made up.

Yes, and the Defense will hammer this point home. You didn't see the murder right? If the video actually shows what it alleges to show, the defendant breaking into the home, you have no evidence the defendant actually killed the homeowner right? You have no evidence the defendant even confronted the deceased correct? Of course there are other questions about handling the video and chain of custody, but the obvious being was the video edited (by you or the police after turning it over to them)? Do you have a copy of the original video you turned over to police (is there a difference between the copies, etc...).

As another commented said there is no difference between the video and if you eye-witnessed the suspect entering the home, you would still testify one way or the other (including acknowledging you didn't see the suspect commit the murder and have no knowledge if the suspect committed the murder, its possible someone else could have broke in when you weren't watching, or around back, etc...)

The idea of cross-examining the person who introduces security camera video doesn't really make much sense. If the camera actually witnessed the crime what could the installation possibly have to do with it? The only time it could be relevant is if the camera simply showed when/where the suspect was.

I would like to see the system modified somewhat--in criminal trials everyone has to disclose what they are going to present anyway. The other side should be required to indicate if and in what way they are going to challenge the evidence. If there's no dispute about where the camera is then nobody need be available to testify to where it is. (As it's cloud there's no issue of when.)

>The idea of cross-examining the person who introduces security camera video doesn't really make much sense.

Well interestingly this is a major issue in red light camera cases. Initially as cities were implementing red light cameras, the ticket and court case were all essentially automated.

In many jurisdictions this was challenged on multiple grounds, but one of the biggest issues (which most courts tending to agree with) is violation of the defendants rights to cross examine the State's witness and improperly introducing the video into evidence (generally it was introduced by affidavit from some record keeper in the camera company).

Its really a fundamental rights issue.

That's basically a technicality. If the video clearly shows the entire offense (to me that would include showing the entire yellow so it can be measured against what it should have been) nothing else should matter.

On the other hand, if the camera doesn't show everything the camera software is in effect testifying--and it comes down to if there are any flaws in the software. The government does not have a good track record on this--breathalyzers inherently are relying on the software and the manufacturers won't permit examination (discovery refused, there goes the DUI case)--so in some places it's been declared unquestionable.

(Never mind that the breathalyzer inherently has a considerable error margin due to biology--the ratio between blood alcohol and breath alcohol varies from person to person. Quick screening test, fine, evidence for conviction--not in my book.)

In some societies, you are rewarded, or at least supported, in doing your civic duty. That's often not the case in other places. There can be a high cost.

Except the civic institutions are corrupt and therefore the duty is voided.

I don't see why this is necessary. If it's on camera why would it matter who it belongs to? Is some legal letter not sufficient? Something along the lines of "I, name, live at this address and own the device that captured said footage". It's not like it was a witness account or anything.

I wonder what a lawyer would say, but I suspect this has something to do with the right to cross examine evidence. It might be hearsay to just use a pre-recorded statement. If the defense thinks the evidence is bunk, they should be able to question 5440 about the camera. Cynically, this could also be a tactic using the right to cross examine to wear 5440 down. I'm not a lawyer though, so who knows.

Not a pre-recorded statement; a notarized declaration letter. “At some point I declared in person, to a reliable witness, that I own this camera, and they wrote that down.”

How does the defense question the circumstances around the video if it's just a letter they sent in? Or should they just take the prosecutors word that the video is what they say it is?

It's a video, it can speak for itself

Exactly my point. The prosecutor told me its because the defense is trying to dispute everything and get the footage removed from evidence.

If it was a family member of yours that was murdered wouldn't you want someone to help catch the person who did it?


After providing the footage, if they tried to get me to take 3 unpaid weeks off work, I would tell them to kick rocks. If they want me to help them with their case at the expense of my job they need to compensate me for lost income.

In which case, you would probably be found in contempt of court and fined or arrested if a judge wanted to push the point.

I mean at least you haven't been murdered.

That seems like an incredibly selfish reaction. You're mad that you had to provide testimony about a neighbor's murder? How would you feel if your neighbors were complaining about helping with your murder investigation? And I say this as someone who recently had jury duty and watched dozens of people make fools of themselves because they simply didn't want to participate in their civil duty. This is what makes/breaks a society.

Welcome to the private free-market Stasi.

You can try to opt out by not using Facebook or Ring cameras, but your friends and neighbors opt you in without your permission.

Indeed. Mass surveillance. Police brutality. Weapons confiscation. Seems to be a pattern.

Both sides of the political spectrum are enabling different portions of this pattern.

One of those things is not like the others.

What's not like the others? I see a list of common activities of government overreach.

Who is confiscating weapons?

Sometimes it's called a "mandatory buy-back" like in Australia.

The police via Red Flag laws which are incredibly easy to abuse.

The police are using red flag laws to seize weapons because the 'private free-market Stasi' told them to?

Red flag laws are mostly used to prevent suicides and domestic violence. They are formal proceedings and due process of law. If the problem is with the law, organize and change it.

There is no due process. Due process would be (1) a hearing prior to your property being confiscated; and (2) the ability to face your accuser. None of these happen with any existing red flag laws and violate multiple items in the Bill of Rights. Additionally, in most states' implementations of these laws, there are no codified repercussions for false reportings. It's effectively legalized SWATting.

They have led to the death of one man in Maryland [0] and an erroneous confiscation of one man in Florida [1] so far.

[0]: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/maryland-officers-serving-red-f...

[1]: https://townhall.com/tipsheet/bethbaumann/2019/08/19/red-fla...

That first one sounds like someone that should have been red flagged--I wouldn't call that a failure of the system. The police were there, he had put the gun down and then picked it up again.

Yeah, family members said he wouldn't hurt anyone. It's very common for family members to side with abusers over victims.

The second, however, is the sort of problem that plague red flag laws.

> They are formal proceedings and due process of law.

A number of states involve no due-process prior to confiscation and require you to hire an attorney and file suit if your initial request for return of property are denied.

Having been "red flagged" by a vindictive ex, and in a "Red State" too boot, this is no joke.

You have fallen for the hype. Red flag laws are a very bad implementation of a good idea.

> Stasi

Did you know the Stasi was the largest spy organization in modern history? More than 50,000 people worked for them. In a group of 12 people, two to three are often informants.

In today's private free-market Stasi, you'd be lucky if a group of 12 people has two or three who are not informants.

Your hyperbole really undercuts your (reasonable) argument.

It's still reasonable, because he isn't talking about traditional spies. The majority of the population seems to be plugged into Facebook, Google, and other companies that are essentially surveillance organizations. By interacting with people who have no concern for their own privacy, you will end up being surveilled as well. If you are a contact in their phone or email that will be harvested, if you go to their house and they have smart devices you will likely be recorded (audio and or video), if you go anywhere with them there will be location data, if they take and post any pictures or videos with you that's another source of data. He is correct that the majority of the population are now "informants", although they are informing for companies like Facebook rathter than directly for the government


> Go ahead and continue to downvote me, you fucking corporate shills. The truth hurts, I know.

We've had to ask you multiple times before to stop breaking the site guidelines. If you keep doing it, we're going to have to ban you. I don't want to ban you, so would you please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and post in the intended spirit?


I had an idea for a responsible mass surveillance system.

Say you have cameras all over the city, feeding to the local police station. That's helpful in catching criminals, but obviously easy to abuse. Well suppose instead that the DVR in the police station is encrypted and contains a secure enclave. All the camera feeds are E2E encrypted from the camera to the box. The secure enclave in the DVR enforces rules for how the footage can be accessed. It only allows X amount of video footage to leave the box over time. Say watching 4 camera streams continuously or something (in a city of hundreds of cameras).

So a crime occurs; police know the rough time frame and can easily query footage from the box. But mass surveillance, watching all the camera streams, dumping them to an AI cloud for facial recognition tracking of all your movements, etc, isn't possible.

The secure enclave can also enforce logging; anyone viewing the footage submits authentication, creating a permanent paper trail of who viewed what.

There are endless possibilities for the rules we want to establish, but the thrust of my idea is that we can enforce them using that concept of a secure enclave and encrypted footage, so that we can be reasonably sure that the system can't be abused.

Anyway, it's just an interesting idea I had. I'm not really trying to make an argument for or against widespread surveillance like that. Just, if soceity wants it, there are ways to build systems that enforce rules on how those cameras are used. And what Ring offers is kind of in this vein too; allow camera owners to share footage on a case by case basis when requested. I think it'd be even better if Ring footage was encrypted so that Ring actually really couldn't access the footage without your consent.

The headline neglects to mention that the system is opt in and per-incident, which I think is a critical detail. It's not like police have 24/7 involuntary access to everyone's video.

Remember you don't own or control anything you upload to a third party.

From the ring privacy policy:

> We also may disclose personal information about you (1) if we are required to do so by law or legal process (such as a court order or subpoena); (2) in response to requests by government agencies, such as law enforcement authorities; (3) to establish, exercise or defend our legal rights; (4) when we believe disclosure is necessary or appropriate to prevent physical or other harm or financial loss; (5) in connection with an investigation of suspected or actual illegal activity; or (6) otherwise with your consent.

> We reserve the right to transfer any personal information we have about you in the event we sell or transfer all or a portion of our business or assets (including in the event of a merger, acquisition, joint venture, reorganization, divestiture, dissolution or liquidation).

Imagine if the privacy policy simply said:

We will disclose your personal information if it benefits us.

Adding more words doesn't strengthen privacy one bit:

We will disclose your personal information to comply with a court order, or to save someone's life, or if it benefits us.

That's true for all companies. You still have to comply with subpoenas and can still be acquired. That's true whether you're the coffee shop down the street or Amazon full of cloud video from folks doorbells.

(4) and (5) are the only ones with wording I see as a bit dubious, but I'm not a lawyer and don't know if those are normally required terms.

Do police have any obligation to be honest in these requests? Even if it’s opt-in, I’d be afraid of cops using the system to harass personal enemies by making requests that say they’re looking for an active serial killer or whatever.

Do police have any obligation to be honest in these requests?

No. Infractions would have to be prosecuted by the district attorney, who has no interest to get on the bad side of the police because he needs them to be successful.

Consider the case of Arlington police! Arlington cops were in bed with a drug dealer because he supplied the force with steroids. In return for the goodies, the police informed their supplier about the competition. The maximum penalty for improper access of records would be 10 years in prison, but they gave the bent cop just 1 year. It really does wonders to restore trust in the system.


We really need checks and balances on police. Seems like such a fundamental underpinning of democracy eroded.

by design, the police concentrate force in a separate group of people who then specialize in that use of force. residents relinquish that (threat of) force voluntarily to the police to enjoy being a citizen of a (hopefully) more peaceful society in exchange.

part of the problem is that we naturally conflate (1) knowing and enforcing rules and (2) the use of force. despite the similarity of the words, enforcement doesn't necessarily require direct force. such intertwined subtleties make your entreaty to "institute checks and balances" hard to realize.

and this disjunction is problematic; i think it's better to have a little force spread widely throughout communities, rather than a lot of force concentrated in one sub-group, as its less risk of catastrophic use of force and a more even application all around (more fair). but that's a challenge in the increasingly specialized social groupings (and identities) we live in.

even so, "police" is too much of an identity separate from the society to which they're enjoined. i think policemen/women should be community members first, and enforcers second, not the other way around.

There are many.

Fellow officers can be a check.

The police internal affairs are a check.

In most cities there is a police board that acts as a check.

The local DA can be a check.

The US Attorney for the state can be a check.

The defense attorney can be a check.

The judge can be a check.

Depends on what your problem with this arrangement is. IF you're worried about the use of your feed against your will, then yea this isn't a problem (you know, unless the police get a warrant and demand Nest turn it over to you)

If your issue is that your neighbors are now helping expand the surveillance state by self-installing cameras to allow the police visibility of your home, then it's still a problem. Technically this was always a possibility, but the ease of which the police can now search for and find these cameras to request access to is what makes this scary.

> Technically this was always a possibility

Even worse, as people normalize the use of a surveillance technology (a technology in general, NOT a specific product), eventually it will pass the "in general public use" test created by Kyllo v United States. When that happens, using that technology is no longer a search and thus the police no longer need a warrant to use it. The people normalizing surveillance tech are eroding our future 4th Amendment protection.

(see my previous post[1] about this for references)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20595358

>It's not like police have 24/7 involuntary access to everyone's video.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this one since I started on the internet in '97. It's never true.

I'm as paranoid about IoT devices being abused as anyone, but can you point out more than 1 or 2 examples of "It's never true?"

all in all a great (if not disgusting) business strategy, showing the power of leveraging the state to succeed in a so called "free market":

- get powerful, vocal .gov entity involved in your product as easily/thoroughly as possible while you perform typical statup "disruption" activities

- when any issues with regulation, rights violations etc. come up, immediately "shell out" to your .gov spokeperson who sings your praises and how we cannot touch this entity ("helped catch all these bad guys", "used in xx criminal cases that led to convictions", "would you really want to let someone in your home /without/ one of these?")

- repeat ad nauseum as frustrated citizens complain - "we would LOVE to comply, but... it's no longer just about us, you'd be hindering crime-fighting! so we can't do it"

- you now have impenetrable air cover as any random .gov entity with power will trump citizen outrage

At the time of this posting, the link above this one was "China’s CCTV network took just 7 minutes to capture BBC reporter (2017)." I find that very ironic, especially because the comments inside are calling China a surveillance state.

But we can split hairs about that forever because this isn't the action of an authoritarian government, but rather the invisible hand of the free market, which in this case is a company owned by American's richest industrialist working hand in hand with law enforcement to link together a network of surveillance systems.

It's completely different. /s

My city’s police department is actually very transparent about this. They have a campaign on social media and snail mail to inform citizen to sign up for the use of outside cameras to assist law enforcement in case they need footages for a crime in an area covered by your cameras. Once they determine that your camera footages could help they would send you a request to share the videos with them for investigation. I think pretty much everyone in my community welcomes this idea as we have had an uptick in car break ins lately.

Bet they don’t tell you that if your footage turns out to be useful you might end up tied up in the legal system for weeks and missing work and income

So it's not government sponsored surveillance, it's company sponsored surveillance, paid for by the people who don't want to be watched. Grand! And then Ring can charge the police forces money to use the service! :\

The first product that popped into my mind when I read the subject's name in the title was Gnu Ring. My jaw dropped several inches before I remembered that Gnu Ring changed its name from Ring to Jami in Jan of this year.

> https://blog.savoirfairelinux.com/en-ca/card/ring-becomes-ja...

Is this an example of Paul Graham's concept of a submarine article? [1] At least they are honest about the relationship:

"Ring is owned by Amazon, which bought the firm last year for more than $800 million, financial filings show. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post."

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html

> To seek out Ring video that has not been publicly shared, officers can use a special “Neighbors Portal” map interface to designate a time range and local area, up to half a square mile wide, and get Ring to send an automated email to all users within that range, alongside a case number and message from police.

Is "half a square mile wide" supposed to mean a square that's half a mile on each side?

No, it means total area of 1/2 a square mile.

The sides of the square would be sqrt(0.5).

If Ring is being compensated by the government agencies - I'll happily participate too - providing Ring and/or law enforcement agency (let them decide between) will compensate me as well for supporting their business model every time i share my video.

Optionally i can decide to share on a good will basis of course - but this is going to be optional.

Police don't need this to fight crime. Crime is at historical lows. Civilization has gotten by just fine without pervasive surveillance for centuries.

In a way this is worse than what China is building since it's distributed.

I like that the Ring surveillance devices has a glowing indicator visible from the outside. It lets me know what neighborhoods I should avoid.

So, a capitalist surveillance state.

Is it better if the Government forces surveillance, or if people are duped into buying it for themselves?

Buying it for themselves? I don't know whether Ring is paying the various police departments for their "partnership", but it's been in the news locally here (an "at-risk", "high-crime" area, call it what you will) in the last few days that the local police department is giving away 50 Ring cameras and the winners are chosen by a lottery system.

Ticks all the boxes: "free" and entertaining element of gaming for the public, good police PR, field data for Ring. Much like the supposed value (and tentacles) of the Red Light Camera industry. Nevermind the constant barrage of ads through Nextdoor and other channels.


At least it's somewhat possible to opt-out. I wish the libertarian ideal of government as protecting personal liberties, up to and including against corporate interests, was practiced.

No shit.

If I put a camera outside of my house I want police to be able to access/react to what it’s captured. Our PD even has an app where you can register a camera with them (not direct access though)

I took great pains to mount my cameras so they only see my front porch or someone walking up my sidewalk, all they see of anyone else is their shins/feet walking by on the common area sidewalk.

Then the HOA said I can't mount cameras outside due to "privacy concerns", a Ring doorbell is the only approved camera.

So now my Ring doorbell captures a full video of everyone walking by my unit.

Are there any rules against having more than one "doorbell"? Do the rules say where the "doorbells" must be located or if they must be accessible by visitors?

(Also, if there wasn't a rule against your cameras when you put them up, then you should talk to a lawyer.)

then you should talk to a lawyer

I have a Ring now, which suits my needs to capture anyone stealing packages. I tried to do the right thing by positioning the camera to only capture my property, but oh well, I guess that's not my (or the HOA's) concern.

I have no interest in paying money for a lawyer to argue against the HOA (alienating myself from the HOA board), plus any legal costs that I cause for the HOA is also a cost to me.

True. You don't always have to talk to a lawyer, this could be something that a person fights themselves. But I think HOAs are something people should not let trample over them.

Hopefully people become friends with their neighbors before something like this happens so it's not homeowner vs neighbors, but instead homeowner vs overreaching entity. Get your friends/neighbors to see that the HOA is wasting their money on such a petty, overreaching thing. Better yet, get yourself and your friends/neighbors on the HOA board to prevent this kind of stuff.

Great. You pointed that camera directly at my house and are now infringing on my right not to have it watched by the police 24/7.

Please explain why your rights are greater than mine.

>right not to have it watched by the police 24/7

I'm not aware of any legislation in the USA that would make a video feed of the exterior view of a property from one's own property illegal.

You're correct. This is legal. That doesn't make it good. It's also legal for the police to have access to this. It doesn't make it good. It's also legal for everyone else in the neighborhood to send this footage willingly to the police anytime they see a "suspicious person" in the neighborhood. It doesn't make it good.

I believe this is a bad thing. I believe that citizens helping subsidize the creation of an Amazon surveillance product that they then sell to police forces is a bad thing, even if it's legal.

The person you are responding to never mentioned laws. I believe he or she would be referring to certain ethical rights we should have.

The right to privacy is the right to wear a mask, not the right to go around poking out other people's eyes.

There is no ethical distinction between installing a camera to record, and watching with one's own eyes and remembering what was seen.

We might, perhaps, have an ethical right to be informed when someone is watching us, that we might take reasonable privacy countermeasures if necessary. On the presumption that people may look in as easily as we look out, we typically put blinds and curtains in our windows. It is not so difficult to do similar things with sight-lines around the exterior of buildings. An umbrella here, an awning there, a fence around, planting some bamboo or arborvitaes--the further away the observer, the smaller their potential viewing angles, and the easier it is to block their view in without also blocking your own view out.

While it may be unsettling to think about our neighbors monitoring our comings and goings, it might also be comforting that they would notice any unusual activity around our property, and maybe also take action to interrupt it, or at least report it. If you put up a screen such that no one else can see it when you go in and out of your front door, likewise no one can see it when a housebreaker is patiently picking its lock. So you put up a camera that you control, to monitor your own threshold, and the surveillance/privacy arms race can stop there. Your neighbor can no longer either look out at you, or look out for you.

>There is no ethical distinction between installing a camera to record, and watching with one's own eyes and remembering what was seen.

Yes there is, simply by the fact that you can't stand in multiple places and remember everything all the time. The problem with mass surveillance is the scale.

Where is the cutoff point, then? At what number of cameras, or cameras per square meter, is it no longer ethical to record what is visible from your property? Exactly one camera? Can you multiplex multiples, so the video feed simulates a person walking around the property?

Are the ethics limited by human capabilities, or by human intent? Or it strictly a matter of outcomes?

If you were to stand on your porch with phone in hand, on the line with the police, and narrate aloud that your neighbor is out getting the paper, and what he looks like, and that he has a strange car in his driveway from the night before, etc. it would be immediately obvious how socially inappropriate and unacceptable this degree of surveillance is. The fact that we have not already codified a specific right or social norm against it is an accident of the fact that nobody has the time to do this manually, and most people don't know or fully realize that their neighbors' doorbells are doing so electronically. Any networked camera continuously filming a field of view off your own property is bad.

It would not be obvious to me that the narrating neighbor is doing anything unacceptable. Your appeal to obviousness (bandwagon fallacy) leaves out any meaningful ethical argument as to why such behavior should be socially unacceptable.

One neighbor has a right to record, memorialize, or journalize anything they may observe. The other neighbor has a right to privacy, sometimes.

But that does not include those times when they are out and about in public. If you don't want neighbors tattling on your activities, be somewhere where they can't see you without trespassing. There is a case to be made for a right to pseudo-anonymity in public, to not be gratuitously identified by strangers, but this does not apply to your hypothetical.

Please take a moment to think past obviousness, and consider the non-obvious implications of establishing a right to privacy based on invisible-to-the-human-eye private property lines and the potentially obfuscated ownership or unpublished tenancy rights in those properties.

The only question that needs to be answered is whether the owner of the camera has the right to be where the camera is while it is recording. Opening it up beyond that, to what the camera might be able to capture from there, is a whole new can of worms. That introduces the potential for censorship based on the content of the recordings, a possibility far more unacceptable (to me) than having a relentlessly snitchy, nosy, tattling neighbor.

There is definitely an argument to be made against police being able to use all those shared video feeds without getting explicit permission from a judge, but I believe the doorbell-camera owner has an absolute right to record anything it can see, 24-7, and publish all of it, or none of it, to whomever they choose to share it with, or no one at all, to include turning it over to police. It is not meaningfully different from the nosy old fart that watches everyone in the neighborhood from their front window, and then gossips about what everyone is doing to their friends, who are doing exactly the same thing on their own streets. They can tattle to the cops whenever they like. We have always needed to draw the curtains to keep Peeping Tom and Bertha Busybody at bay. Preventing them from looking anywhere off their own property is not an ethical option. We can restrict the police from acting on those tips without independently verifiable evidence, because the cops are nominally public servants.

And that's where the focus needs to lie. Restrict the cops from even looking at any of those shared feeds without some record of reasonable suspicion.

When someone films you, they are implicitly consenting to use their image sensor to receive any photons you may emit. Should you choose to emit a few extra photons, say with a 5 watt laser pointer, it is their problem if said image sensor becomes less responsive to photons in the future.

Make sure you use exactly that argument in the civil suit against you for the willful destruction of someone else's property.

You have no reasonable expectation of [visual] privacy anywhere that is plainly visible from ground level on the public right-of-way. Erect an opaque privacy barrier if you're worried about snooping cameras. Remember to have the utility lines marked before you dig your post holes.

Anyone, anywhere in the US, is free to photograph or video-record anything they can see, from any place they have a legal right to stand.

If you don't want your emitted photons captured by someone else, capture them yourself before they leave your property.

I agree 100%, In a public space, any one has the right to capture any photons I may emit. And I have the right to choose the quantity and wavelength of photons I want to emit(1st amendment in USA, natural right everywhere).

I can do this by wearing a white or black shirt for example.

If your image sensor can't hang with the big boys, don't bring it to the playground.

If you think is acceptable to emit a damaging level of photons in public, you are also espousing shining blinding green lasers into other people's eyeballs, or setting off EMP devices, or radio jammers, or even just using reflecting mirrors to shine bright sunlight into other people's faces. And if it is acceptable for you to do it to others, it is equally acceptable for others to do it to you.

Perhaps you could think of people as Part 15 devices, with limits on emitted power and a commitment to not interfere with other users of the spectrum? Your right to flail your fists around wildly stops at the end of my nose.

It's the neighborhood equivalent of 'Five Eyes'!

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