Power

Amazon’s Ring has 29 new police agreements since the killing of George Floyd

That includes the Crystal Police Department, located several miles away from the spot where Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.

A Ring doorbell

Ring has entered into partnerships with police departments and sheriff's offices in at least 20 states over the past several weeks.

Photo: Courtesy of Ring

Amazon's Ring has announced 29 new partnerships with police departments since the killing of George Floyd on May 25, public records show, drawing accusations of hypocrisy from activists who say Amazon's work on behalf of law enforcement is antithetical to its stated support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Activists and researchers offered muted praise for Amazon this week after the company announced it won't sell its controversial facial recognition technology to police departments for one year, responding to mounting pressure on tech companies to cut certain ties with law enforcement amid a nationwide reckoning over police brutality and racial inequality. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he is "happy to lose" customers that do not support Black Lives Matter.

But Amazon is facing fresh scrutiny over its rapidly expanding work with police forces through Ring, the Amazon-owned home doorbell and surveillance company, which has worked for years to brand itself as a friend to law enforcement. Civil rights activists say Ring, and its accompanying social network Neighbors, enables the disproportionate surveillance and targeting of Black people. It also allows police to access vast amounts of video footage as long as Ring users give them permission.

According to data published through Ring's "active agency" map, Ring has entered into partnerships with police departments and sheriff's offices in at least 20 states over the past several weeks — including the Crystal Police Department, located several miles away from the spot where Floyd was killed in Minneapolis.

The company also announced a contract with the Las Cruces Police Department in New Mexico, where a police officer is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter after placing a man named Antonio Valenzuela in a neck restraint during a February arrest.

Ring officials did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment. In a letter to Congress last year, Amazon's top lobbyist, Brian Huseman, said Ring's aim is to help people "protect their homes and communities."

"We're seeing a sea change right now in what's possible when it comes to policing and racial justice," said Maurice Weeks, co-executive director of the Action Center on Race and the Economy, which advocates for racial justice and Wall Street accountability. "Amazon, on the other hand, is just taking baby steps."

Ring, which maintains partnerships with more than 1,300 police departments, encourages its users to share "concerning" video footage captured through their doorbells with police departments and through the Neighbors app. Ring has often offered its doorbell surveillance systems free to police departments, encouraging them to disseminate the technology through their local communities. Reports have found many of the incidents that users report as "suspicious" involve people of color, and civil liberties experts have raised alarms about

"A lot of the places where Ring has contracts … are gentrifying areas, places where white folks are coming in, and then they don't feel comfortable because there's people of color," said Brandon Forester, an organizer with digital rights advocacy organization MediaJustice.

Groups including MediaJustice and Athena, an anti-Amazon coalition, say the company should cut ties with law enforcement in order to support the Black Lives Matter movement with action. Meanwhile, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group, is circulating a petition calling on Amazon Ring to end its partnerships with the police, raising the possibility that Ring cameras could be used to surveil protests across the country.

"In light of Amazon's recent statement condemning police violence, we demand that you follow through on your sentiments and end Ring's troubling and dangerous partnerships with law enforcement," the petition reads. "These partnerships put community members and the general public at risk of racial profiling, overpolicing, and the potential for violence."

Ring so far has not made any public statements responding to the Black Lives Matter protests or to the escalating criticism around its technology.

Protocol | Fintech

A lawsuit tests who controls the stock market

Citadel Securities seeks to block IEX's product that limits high-frequency trading advantages.

Kenneth Griffin is the founder and chief executive officer of Citadel LLC, which argued during Monday's hearing that IEX's D-Limit order type shouldn't have been approved by the SEC.

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Market maker Citadel Securities, stock exchange IEX and the Securities and Exchange Commission each gave oral arguments Monday in a legal case that could have large implications for financial markets.

Last October, Citadel Securities sued the SEC, seeking to reverse the SEC's previous decision last August to approve IEX's D-Limit order type, arguing that this order type would hurt the overall market. The case was argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals Monday.

Keep Reading Show less
Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

If you've ever tried to pick up a new fitness routine like running, chances are you may have fallen into the "motivation vs. habit" trap once or twice. You go for a run when the sun is shining, only to quickly fall off the wagon when the weather turns sour.

Similarly, for many businesses, 2020 acted as the storm cloud that disrupted their plans for innovation. With leaders busy grappling with the pandemic, innovation frequently got pushed to the backburner. In fact, according to McKinsey, the majority of organizations shifted their focus mainly to maintaining business continuity throughout the pandemic.

Keep Reading Show less
Gaurav Kataria
Group Product Manager, Trello at Atlassian

Everything you need to know about the Allbirds IPO

Allbirds wants to become an iconic global brand for shoes and everything else.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The humble venture capitalist puts on her Allbirds one shoe at a time, just like everybody else (or at least everyone else in Palo Alto).

Since its founding in 2015, Allbirds has become an essential component of the tech bro uniform, alongside such staples as the embroidered Patagonia quarter-zip, Lululemon ABC pants, the Zuck-inspired black T-shirt and a Y Combinator-branded Hydro Flask.

Keep Reading Show less
Hirsh Chitkara
Hirsh Chitkara (@ChitkaraHirsh) is a researcher at Protocol, based out of New York City. Before joining Protocol, he worked for Business Insider Intelligence, where he wrote about Big Tech, telecoms, workplace privacy, smart cities, and geopolitics. He also worked on the Strategy & Analytics team at the Cleveland Indians.
Protocol | Policy

It’s Frances Haugen’s world. We’re all just living in it.

With the release of the Facebook Papers, Haugen holds Facebook's future in her hands.

Haugen's decision to open the trove of documents up to outlets beyond the Journal has sparked a feeding frenzy.

Photo: Frances Haugen

Facebook knows a thing or two about optimizing content for outrage. As it turns out, so does Frances Haugen.

Or at least, the heavyweight team of media and political operatives helping manage the rollout of her massive trove of internal documents seems to have learned the lesson well. Because the document dump known as the Facebook Papers, published the same day as Facebook's earnings call with investors and the same week as the conference where it plans to lay out its future as a metaverse company, wasn't just designed for mass awareness.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Here are all the Facebook Papers stories

They paint a picture of Facebook that's very different from what Mark Zuckerberg likes to say.

Image: Getty Images, Protocol

Monday morning's news drop was a doozy. There was story after story about the goings-on inside Facebook, thanks to thousands of leaked documents from Frances Haugen, the whistleblower who wants the information within those files to spread far and wide. Haugen is also set to speak in front of the British Parliament on Monday, continuing the story that is becoming known as The Facebook Papers.

Keep Reading Show less
David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editorial director. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Latest Stories