Amazon and Google are using secret police agreements and free giveaways to spy on everyone.
Last week Vice News revealed how police departments across the country are secretly working with Amazon to create mini-neighborhood surveillance zones using Ring doorbells.
Amazon and law enforcement are enticing residents to join Amazon’s “Neighbors” network by giving out corporate freebies.
Ring doorbell cameras will be provided to the public free of charge, according to a published agreement between the Lakeland Police Department in Florida and Amazon.
As Vice News warned,American law enforcement has become a corporate shill.
Law enforcement’s relationship with Amazon is so close, they have agreed to work with Ring to coordinate on all public communications.
“The parties shall agree to a joint press release to be mutually agreed upon by the parties,” the memorandum of understanding says.
Gizmodo revealed that Ring pre-writes almost all of the messages shared by police across social media, and attempts to legally obligate police to give the company final say on all statements about its products, even those shared with the press. They also revealed that all police announcements called, “Press Packets,” “Press Release Templates,” “Social Media Templates,” and “Key Talking Points” are scripted by Ring.
Want to find out if your neighbors are using Ring to spy on people of color or create a secret watchlist? Don’t ask the police because they will have nothing bad to say about Ring doorbell cameras.
A recent CNET article revealed that at least 50 police departments have given away Ring doorbells or used taxpayer dollars to purchase them.
“Police departments across the country, from major cities like Houston to towns with fewer than 30,000 people, have offered free or discounted Ring doorbells to citizens, sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for Amazon’s products.”
Vice News claims that at least 200 police departments have partnered with Amazon.
An article in last year’s Business Wire did a fantastic job of revealing what Ring’s mission really is.
“Ring, a company on a mission to reduce crime in neighborhoods, today launched the Neighbors app on iOS and Android to provide every neighbor with real-time, local crime and safety information. Police and sheriff’s departments throughout the U.S. are also joining the network as a new way to share real-time crime and safety alerts with their communities.”
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction as the New York Times revealed.
“Amazon said that it was working with Realogy, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company and owner of Century 21, Coldwell Banker and other brands, to create TurnKey, a service that will help prospective home buyers find real estate agents. To entice customers, Amazon will give buyers up to $5,000 in-home services and smart-home gear when they close.”
Amazon is essentially offering first-time homebuyers $5,000 worth of surveillance devices so they can monitor everything they do.
“This changed when the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Google Nest started a project to understand how technology can benefit people living with paralysis. Google Nest is providing up to 100,000 Google Home Minis to help them.”
Google’s blog post reads like a benevolent company interested in “helping” people who are paralyzed; do everyday things like listen to music, make a grocery list or turn on the A/C using a NEST thermostat.
It does such a good job at masking the reality of what Google listening devices do, you almost want to thank Google for being so nice.
Corporations act as though they care about public safety or handicapped people while secretly using their products to build a massive database on everyone.
Amazon, Google and Apple are all spying on what goes on inside people’s homes and perhaps nothing says that better than a recent story in the UK Guardian that revealed how private contractors use Siri to spy on people having sex.
“There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings, sexual encounters and so on. These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data.”
These devices should be re-named corporate law enforcement surveillance devices to reflect what they really are. Sometimes corporation’s come up with clever ways to hide the fact that their products are designed to spy on everyone, and sometimes they almost seem to care about the public.
Unfortunately, this is not one of those times.
Editors Note: Some of the information collected through these private companies almost certainly ends up in federal databases. The feds can share and tap into vast amounts of information gathered at the state and local level through fusion centers and a system known as the “information sharing environment” or ISE.
Fusion centers were sold as a tool to combat terrorism, but that is not how they are being used. The ACLU pointed to a bipartisan congressional report to demonstrate the true nature of government fusion centers: “They haven’t contributed anything meaningful to counterterrorism efforts. Instead, they have largely served as police surveillance and information sharing nodes for law enforcement efforts targeting the frequent subjects of police attention: Black and brown people, immigrants, dissidents, and the poor.”
Fusion centers operate within the broader ISE. According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators…have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.” In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant. Known ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence which oversees 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. ISE utilizes these partnerships to collect and share data on the millions of unwitting people they track.