by Aaron Kesel, Activist Post:
Amazon Ring is working with police departments all across the U.S. to stage sting operations on would-be package thieves according to several media reports. Meanwhile, if that’s not enough of a nightmare, Amazon’s Ring is also posting ads on Facebook of suspected petty criminals and calling them “Community Alerts.”
Activist Post has previously warned you that it’s not enough that Amazon is on record working with the FBI with its Facial Rekogntion biometric software … no, Amazon is also spying on customers of its recently purchased home security surveillance cameras called “Ring.”
Police departments are in agreement with Amazon Ring to run sting operations, scaring civilians into thinking their neighbors are thieves. If frightening the public wasn’t enough, a new report by Motherboard shows the flagrant disregard that the police department in Aurora, Colorado displayed when running their own operation deemed “Operation Grinch Grab,” which resulted in no arrests.
New documents obtained by Motherboard using a Freedom of Information request show how Amazon, Ring, a GPS tracking company, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service collaborated on a package sting operation with the Aurora, Colorado Police Department in December. The operation involved equipping fake Amazon packages with GPS trackers, and surveilling doorsteps with Ring doorbell cameras in an effort to catch someone stealing a package on tape.
The emails purportedly show an employee of Amazon Ring and a police captain joking about not getting an arrest for the sting operation in Aurora, Colorado.
“As of now, we have not yielded any arrests,” Aurora Police Department captain Matthew Wells-Longshore wrote in an email on December 19. “I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad about that! Ha. Maybe happy that no one in the areas we are in are victims of package theft but sad that we won’t be able to showcase an arrest.”
Wells-Longshore added, “there probably won’t be any footage of an actual arrest.”
Morgan Culbertson, the Public Relations Coordinator for Neighbors, the “neighborhood watch” app developed by Ring, responded to Wells-Longshore, expressing misfortune that no arrests were made.
“Unfortunate that none were apprehended this time around but I am sure your community will appreciate that Aurora PD is being so proactive on their behalf,” Culbertson said.
Aurora, Colorado isn’t the only police department that has been involved in running sting operations with Ring on an unsuspecting public. Elsewhere, the police departments of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Jersey City, New Jersey have also conducted package theft sting operations on residents.
Motherboard also reported in the past that Hayward, California was also a target of this joint sting mission between Amazon and Police departments nationwide.
There is not any more information about other states that participated in package sting operations against civilians according to this writer’s research.
With that said, remember when Activist Post told you that this would be used as a dragnet to report your neighbors? At this point, they are literally just creating George Orwell’s 1984 or reinventing the Stasi, which was in part infiltrated by Nazis.
Both of those are not good concepts for our future and are worrying prospects, which is why many privacy advocate groups, attorneys, and even more recently Microsoft (which also markets its own facial recognition system) have all raised concerns over the technology. They all point to the obvious issues of consent, racial profiling, and the potential to use images gathered through facial recognition cameras as evidence of criminal guilt by law enforcement. But the bigger issue is one that Jay Stanley an attorney at ACLU highlighted a full-blown police state.
“We don’t want to live in a world where government bureaucrats can enter in your name into a database and get a record of where you’ve been and what your financial, political, sexual, and medical associations and activities are,” Jay Stanley, an attorney with ACLU, told BuzzFeed News about the use of facial recognition cameras in retail stores. “And we don’t want a world in which people are being stopped and hassled by authorities because they bear resemblance to some scary character.” (Source)
Another horrifying fact, exposed by Motherboard‘s FOIA in Colorado is that those involved in the sting operation included the U.S. Postal Service. If that’s not enough, this was a mega PR campaign for Amazon Ring colluded between Ring, Aurora PDs and a GPS tracking company known as 7P Solutions. This leads us to the question, how many more of these campaigns are taking place?
“We want to do a big P.R. push on this too,” Aurora Police Night Duty Captain Redfearn wrote to representatives from Amazon, Ring, and 7P Solutions, “so I will give our [public information officer] office Morgan’s email to network about press/coverage.”
Police also offered some residents free Ring cameras, a terrifying prospect that police handed facial recognition spying devices to private citizens as a means to abuse them and surveil a neighborhood. Ring is known to have a “Police Portal,” built into its infrastructure; however, in the past, it has been said that police would need permission to utilize it, The Intercept reported.
This also comes as Amazon Ring recently launched its own crime news app. So the fact that police wanted to give citizens free Ring devices in exchange for being able to access the sophisticated facial recognition cameras, raises a red flag about the expansion of the police state. Further, since this isn’t a one-off event and the stings have been run in several states, as cited above, one has to wonder how widespread this expansion is and how many contract deals Ring has with various police departments across the U.S. unbeknownst to the general public.
Amazon’s Ring was reported last month by BuzzFeed News to be exploiting customers’ videos on Facebook advertisements, of petty criminals labeling them “Community Alerts.” The company then encouraged people to identify and report the petty criminals if they were spotted by the public. This, of course, raises ethical questions, and eyebrows all at once.