TECHNOLOGY

How Amazon Rings uses Domestic Violence to market doorbell cameras


A similar video was captured in September 2019 at Arcadia, California. Dressed like pajamas, a woman runs into another doorbell camera frame. She is also looking at his shoulder while he is knocking, but his culprit is quickly caught. When he shouts “No!” And trying to resist, the man dragged her to the front lawn with the help of her hair. The scene is interrupted, but he repeatedly hits her and hits her. Finally, he says, “Get up, or I’ll kill you.”

These videos reveal traumatic moments and experts say the camera has no control over what happens in captive images. In both cases, the camera belongs to a stranger, and so does the video. The homeowner is the person who agrees to Amazon’s terms of service and chooses how to share the video – whether it’s uploaded to a neighboring app, handed over to the police, or handed over to the media.

Angel Diaz, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security program, said the man in the footage “had nothing to do with the company … and never agreed to cut their analogy.” Critics like Diaz claim that such videos essentially become free marketing material for the ring, which trades on fear and virulence.

The company calculates that videos like these, which are annoying, can help protect the public. Daniels, a spokesman for the ring, wrote in an emailed statement, “The ring has created a way for neighbors to share important security information with each other and to contact the public security agencies that provide their protection.”

And, Ring said, it takes steps to protect the privacy of people present in such videos. “When it comes to sharing a customer’s video in the media or channels we own, our current policy is that we can get a release before we share or blur the face of every person we know in the video.”

When such violent incidents are captured on camera and shared, it can be seen that the video surveillance and neighbors detection system is working as it should. Video evidence can certainly help police and prosecutors. But supporters of victims of domestic violence say that when these intimate moments are revealed, those involved lose their ability to make their own decisions and suffer again. In such videos, women may ask for help and may need it, lawyers say – but not necessarily from the police.

In Manor, Texas, for example, police charged the man with third-degree heinous kidnapping in a video. But the woman seen in the video later told local reporters that she was looking for a lawyer to try to withdraw the allegations.

“They are selling fear in exchange for giving up their privacy.”

Angel Diaz, Brennan Center for Justice



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