Doorbell cams worry privacy advocates as Michigan police use them to cut crime

Lansing — Sixty Michigan police and sheriff’s departments have signed agreements with Amazon letting them access footage from Amazon Ring video doorbells.

Privacy experts call it a concern because such surveillance lacks regulation and transparency. 

The camera doorbell is like a nosy neighbor, said Dave Maass, an Electronic Frontier Foundation senior investigative researcher. 

Sixty Michigan police and sheriff’s departments have signed agreements with Amazon letting them access footage from Amazon Ring video doorbells.

“You don’t have to have the neighbor sitting there,” said Maass, whose San Francisco-based organization defends privacy and other civil liberties in the digital world. “Everybody just has a computer doing it for them. It’s no less creepy. It’s actually far creepier.”

While most participating agencies are in Metro Detroit, others include police in Three Rivers, Holland, Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Lansing, Traverse City, St. Johns and Portage.

Law enforcement agencies view the doorbell as just another way to keep their communities safe.

Livonia Police Chief Curtis Caid

“Cameras are everywhere nowadays,” said Livonia Police Chief Curtis Caid. “We all have them. We carry them around with us, they’re (on) our phones. Whether it’s a home or a business, a lot of people have access to monitoring activities through video. Ring is just one of them.”

Ring doorbells have a video camera and microphone, allowing homeowners to listen and speak through them without answering the door. The most basic version records video when motion is detected, but users can opt for a model that’s always recording. 

Margaret R. Servin

Next Post

Gov. DeSantis announces legislation to crack down on big tech, online censorship

Sun Feb 7 , 2021
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced support of legislation to protect Floridians’ from online social media censorship. The governor made lengthy comments from Tallahassee Tuesday morning about big technology companies, saying that Floridians deserve to have their online data and their ability to participate in social media […]