A Look Inside the Mostly Useless Secret Newsfeed Amazon Provides to Law Enforcement

Similar to the message-board style app Nextdoor, Neighbors encourages people with Ring cameras, and others who join the platform independently, to share information to keep their neighborhoods “safe.” People can use Neighbors to publish footage alongside their posts; when the posts are forwarded to police officers, officers can click through to view the accompanying media.

Ring, which is owned by the tech giant Amazon, has formed a partnership with the LAPD that results in a steady stream of email alerts from the Neighbors platform to hundreds of officers in the department. LAPD is one of more than 2,600 police departments in the United States that have forged partnerships with Amazon’s Ring network.

And while these practices have shown few signs of improving policing outcomes, they take over inboxes, invade consumer privacy, and run the risk of misleading police officers as to how to spend their time and attention.

Full story: A Look Inside the Mostly Useless Secret Newsfeed Amazon Provides to Law Enforcement

2 Replies to “A Look Inside the Mostly Useless Secret Newsfeed Amazon Provides to Law Enforcement”

  1. Ring has become popularized all across the United States, and according to this article has become popular with police departments as well. According to the article “more than 2,600 police departments” work with Ring. Ring created a platform called Neighbors, which was intended to give Ring camera users a place to post videos and share information to protect their communities. Neighbors also has an option in which police officers could request to be notified when a video was posted under a crime section. There was a review of this app and its success done by The Markup; in which they found no evidence of this being successful in stopping crimes, just departments collecting more data and information. The Markup also found that most posts were just suspicions about behaviors in the area, and would flood in boxes rather than relating to any serious crimes. Despite this original app not providing aid in the way it should, is it possible to create an app or some technology that can help aid in solving or alerting to more serious crimes? Is it possible to narrow the scope of information sent to officers, and will the information be used to solve crimes? Or is it a waste to try and use this kind of technology in conjunction with police officers/departments?

    1. Hi Cali, I think you pose an interesting question. Collective security always comes at the cost of individual privacy. So while it would be ideal, in theory at least, to create and engage with an app that is designed to detect and alert to serious criminal activity, the success of such an app is dependent upon Americans’ compliance with the App gaining access to their homes and lives. Because Americans deeply value their privacy and fiercely defend their rights to it, I am doubtful about the potential success of a “neighborhood” style app.

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