Amazon's Ring cameras are building out surveillance for police (The 3:59, Ep. 566)
The Daily Charge
Welcome to the 3:59, I'm Joan E.
I'm Alfred Ng.
Amazon's ring smart home doorbells are helping police departments build surveilance networks right from your neighbor's front doors.
Police departments across the country In major cities like Houston, down to smaller towns with fewer than 30,000 people have offered free or discounted Ring door bells to citizens.
Sometimes using taxpayer funds to pay for the products.
Ring owners are supposed to have the choice Of providing police footage.
But in some cases the giveaways come with a stipulation that you have to turn over footage to police when requested.
Arthur, talk to us about what's going on here.
Yeah, so a lot of people buy rings.
They're very popular.
They think that it will help them stop package thieves or Find somebody suspicious in your neighborhood and you think, well if it's just facing out my doorstep it's not really anything affecting me or my neighbors.
Until you realize your neighbor across the street also has this ring, ANd it's facing your house, and it can get footage of you.
And, just build that out to your entire neighborhood, because that's what it is for a lot of police departments now.
They've been seeing that residents have ring, so they call up Amazon and they partner with them in this program called neighbors, which is a social media app Available.
It's kind of like next door, you know, where it's just among your neighbors and you post footage up there Like, "hey look, look at this person is stealing packages, watch out for him".
Now when police partner with Amazon they are allowed to request for footage directly from people so they can, you know, kind of put a geofence around like a block or something like that.
<<hey, we="" have="" been="" looking="" for="" this="" guy.="" believe="" he="" has="" around="" here="" <="" div=""></hey,> Can you send us this kind of footage?
That's supposed to be optional, but the problem is in some giveaways, the requirements are there are strings attached here.
Hey, like when we asked for footage you're giving this to us like that's it because we gave you this camera for free.
And essentially that's kind of setting up like an open surveillance network for a lot of police officers.
Who were never able to get cameras in these places, you know.
When you get a security camera, that's usually for a city or a big area, not on your block.
And now they have it in these residential areas that they never really had surveillance footage of before.
As you were reporting on the story, what was the most shocking thing?
I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me was just how much money Amazon is making off of this.
So when you have a ring camera, you don't have to get a subscription plan for it.
But it's basically you don't you can't store any footage otherwise.
You can just see like a live view but you can like save that video.
So it's kinda useless unless you get a subscription.
The cheapest one starts at $3 a month and so in some cases Amazon will give these cameras away for free or they will heavily subsidize it because it is kind of this model of like we are going to sell the blade not the razors.
I don't know if it's the other way around.
So in one case where they donated about like $ 18,000 to one town in subsidies, It turns out that they gave out 600 cameras in that town.
You can make all that money back in less than 10 months and then just continue to see the profits arise from that
So it's police, Amazon is asking police do you want to partner with us?
And then police then go to residents and say do you want to buy this Amazon product?
There's this this weird change.
It's all a bunch of backscratching.
And all the money just goes back to Amazon.
We also have an interview with Sony's PlayStation CEO.
Our Ian Shure interviewed the CEO and found out that the game's console maker is vowing to
Release have shared saved games, backwards compatibility and more on its upcoming console often referred to as the PS five.
So I mean, just trajectory wise you know, it's probably going to be the PS five.
They haven't said anything about that, but Yeah, the CEO Jim Ryan.
This is first interview since he started in April.
And he talks about how you know, cloud gaming is going to be the big thing Google with their stadium pitch is kind of moving toward that too.
They, you might be able to play more games with your friends on Xbox and we might be able to play more games with.
Just people on your old console and you might not even have to get the new PS5 to play with your friends on that console, assuming that that's its name.
[LAUGH] A grand feature, we don't have to buy the console to play the console.
Also on CNET our own Ben Fox Reuben has a.
Story also about Amazon, unveiling the latest class of Alexa prize competitors, who will be setting out to make the conversational bots more real.
For these and other stories check out CNet.com.
I'm Joanie Saltsman.
I'm Alfed Ang.
Thanks for listening.