Thanks, Bezos: Video Doorbells Being Used by Police

Ring Doorbell
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Information, from two leaked documents, suggests that the FBI is concerned that some people may be using smart doorbells (such as the ever-popular Ring doorbells) to spy on the police.

Said hacked documents describe a 2017 incident where someone under investigation remotely watched live footage of police preparing to serve a search warrant. This information was found online (by The Intercept) among hacked documents.

Privacy advocates have previously raised concerns about data from smart doorbells being shared with police. The leaked papers, known as BlueLeaks, were taken from more than 250 police websites. The documents in question were technical analysis bulletins, offering an overview of the opportunities and challenges for police from home security systems and smart doorbells.

The 2017 incident describes how someone under investigation was able to “covertly monitor law enforcement activity while law enforcement was on the premises” and alert their neighbour and landlord. Though, it does not name the brand of doorbell used.

Amazon’s Ring doorbell is one of the most popular but there are a variety of companies selling smart doorbells along with home surveillance kits. It is an interesting continuation of the smart doorbell story.

Amazon was criticised last year for partnering with at least 200 US law enforcement agencies to allow surveillance via their doorbells. Under the partnership, police can ask customers to share videos and information about crime in their areas. At the time, digital rights group Fight the Future said it “undermined our democratic process and basic civil liberties”.

In the UK, Wiltshire police have set up a database of private smart doorbells and security cameras and residents are being asked to register theirs.

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