Amazon’s Ring Announces an Entire Line of Dystopian Surveillance Devices

Amazon announced Ring cameras for cars and a drone camera that flies around your home.
September 24, 2020, 7:47pm
On Thursday, Amazon’s Ring surveillance platform announced a new line of products, including a drone with a camera designed to fly around your home, that would expand its surveillance network beyond the Ring doorbell camera..  The Always Home Cam and a ne
Amazon

On Thursday, Amazon’s Ring surveillance platform announced a new line of products, including a drone with a camera designed to fly around your home, that would expand its surveillance network beyond the Ring doorbell camera..

The Always Home Cam and a new line of Ring security cameras for cars are set to launch next year: the Car Cam, Car Alarm, and Car Connect platform. Amazon says that much like the Ring doorbell surveillance cameras, it’ll be integrated into the Ring app and your home’s surveillance system.

Car Alarm can detect break-ins and Car Cam can record the inside and outside of a vehicle. Both of those devices can send alerts about break-ins or accidents, respectively, the company said. Car Connect will be able to integrate already-existing car cameras into Amazon's alert system.

The biggest concern, however, is about where surveillance footage will end up. Already, the company partners with hundreds of police departments, who are able to access Amazon’s neighborhood watch app, Neighbors, via a portal and obtain Ring doorbell footage—so long as they encourage people to adopt Ring cameras and the Neighbors app. Police departments can also keep that footage forever, or share it with whomever they please.

In a statement to Motherboard, a Ring spokesperson said “Ring does not allow video requests for indoor-only cameras, including the Always Home Cam. Customers can share their videos with public safety agencies directly if they wish.”

The spokesperson added that Car Cams are not part of the data request portal “at this time.”

In the past, however, documents obtained by Motherboard have shown that Ring has advised law enforcement how to "persuade" users to voluntarily share footage with police departments.

Amazon is also trying to interface these surveillance devices with its Sidewalk network, which was teased last year. More details about Sidewalk were unveiled on Monday— it promises to be an Amazon-owned WiFi network, connecting various Ring and Echo devices outside of your home (called "Sidewalk Bridges") and allowing the creation of even more networks to keep them connected to one another (and Amazon).

Last, but not least, Amazon unveiled a surveillance drone called the Always Home Cam that will fly around your house and record everything for you. Ring claims the surveillance drone will be autonomous but that users can direct paths for it, have it occupy specific parts of your home, and have it respond to alerts from the Ring surveillance network.

One has to ask where the footage is going to go and who can have access to it. Last year, hackers broke into multiple Ring cameras thanks to a particularly porous security system. A lawsuit was filed against Ring and early this year, and the company began to blame customers, not its poor security, for the hacks. There is also the question of whether police departments and “public safety agencies” will be able to access the footage. While Ring’s comment suggests that requests will not be allowed, Ring itself has taught law enforcement how to obtain footage without requesting it from the company.

Joseph Cox contributed reporting to this article.