The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an international digital rights group, is calling on Ring spokesman Shaquille O'Neal to cancel his October 27 appearance at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference.
Instead, the group would like to have a one-on-one discussion with the former NBA star about Amazon home surveillance company’s technology, its partnerships with law enforcement, and its negative impact on community and individual privacy rights. O’Neal became a spokesperson for Ring in 2016 (before Amazon’s takeover), in exchange for an equity stake in the company.
“Rather than join these [police] conventions, where Shaq hands out tens of thousands of dollars of Ring hardware to police officers from around the country, we’d like to offer the basketball legend a chance to talk to privacy experts about the damage these partnerships can do,” the EFF wrote.
O’Neal has previously appeared at Ring events with law enforcement.
For a long time, Amazon was quiet about details concerning Ring and its partnerships with police departments across the country: how many police departments received Rings; what happened to the data picked up by a Ring; how did the presence of Rings change community interactions internally with neighbors and externally with police? But public records obtained by Motherboard slowly revealed that Amazon was building a surveillance network across the company.
Ring is a huge privacy concern because these cameras can collect footage that can then be voluntarily turned over to police without a warrant. The surveillance carried out by these cameras doesn't just affect members of one community, but anyone who happens to pass by without knowing a Ring is watching their every move and without agreeing to that surveillance in the first place.
Ring is just one part of Amazon’s growing network of cameras and microphones. So while everyday Amazon is morphing more and more into a nation-state, the EFF is hoping that a very public intervention with Shaq can help turn the tide and raise awareness of how this issue threatens us all.