Tech

Advocacy groups slam Amazon and MGM’s controversial ‘Ring Nation’ show ahead of its premiere


Making its television premiere tonight, “Ring Nation” debuts amid calls from advocacy groups to cancel the show. MGM (now owned by Amazon) is using footage from Ring security cameras (also owned by Amazon) to create a show modeled after “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, with Wanda Sykes as host. The show is a thinly-veiled advertisement in a commercial, but beyond that, groups like MediaJustice worry that the show is “normalizing and promoting Amazon Ring’s dangerous network of surveillance cameras.”

Ring told TechCrunch the show will also include videos from cellphones and video cameras.

Ring posed a number of serious security issues, such as the leaking of users’ home addresses. Ring has also raised ethical concerns by sharing images with the government without users’ permission.

Between January and July this year, Amazon shared Ring doorbell images with US authorities 11 times without the device owner’s consent. Ring has come under fire for working closely with at least 2,200 police departments across the United States, allowing police to request doorbell video camera footage from homeowners through Ring’s Neighbors app. Like Citizen and Nextdoor, the Ring’s Neighbors app tracks local crime and allows for anonymous chat. Ring law enforcement partners can also request video footage on the app.

In an open letter to MGM, MediaJustice wrote, “’Ring Nation’ is trying to put a happy face on a dangerous product. Not only will MGM’s “Ring Nation” further normalize harmful neighborhood surveillance, it will deepen the pockets of a company that profits from the criminalization of communities of color and monitors the whereabouts and actions of millions. Forty other human rights organizations have signed the letter.

Daily Kos, a progressive media group, released a petition calling on MGM to cancel “Ring Nation.” Nearly 70,000 people have signed the petition.

Ring only began disclosing its ties to law enforcement after the US government sent transparency requests to the company. In a 2019 letter, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said the company’s dealings with police forces raise civil liberties concerns.

“Integrating Ring’s camera network with law enforcement offices could easily create a surveillance network that places a dangerous burden on people of color and fuels racial anxieties in local communities,” the AFP wrote. Senator Markey’s time. “In light of evidence that existing facial recognition technology disproportionately identifies African Americans and Latinos, a product like this has the potential to catalyze racial profiling and harm people of color.”

Since then, Senator Markey has also spoken out against the “Ring Nation” show.

“The Ring platform has too often made over-policing and over-surveillance a real and pressing issue for American neighborhoods, and attempts to normalize these issues are no joke,” the senator said. Markey at The Hollywood Reporter.

Big Fish Entertainment, the MGM subsidiary working on the show, did not respond to request for comment.

Update, 9/26/22, 9:09 PM ET: Added response from Ring.


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