U.S. Democratic Senator Edward Markey raised concerns on Thursday (Sep 5) that law enforcement use of Amazon.com Inc’s Ring doorbell camera in investigations could disproportionately affect people of colour and encourage racial profiling.
In a letter to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, Markey said sharing information from Ring’s at-home camera systems with police departments “could easily create a surveillance network that places dangerous burdens on people of colour” and stoke “racial anxieties” in communities where it works with law enforcement.
Markey, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Security, said he was “alarmed to learn that Ring is pursuing facial recognition technology” and that Amazon was marketing its facial recognition technology Rekognition to police departments.
Ring declined to comment.
Facial recognition technology has been shown to disproportionately misidentify people of colour. In a 2018 American Civil Liberties Union study, Rekognition incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress, including Markey, to a database of 25,000 publicly available arrest photos.
Markey cited civil liberties concerns about “countless bystanders who may be unaware that they are being filmed” by Ring cameras.
Ring products include at-home camera surveillance systems and a social network called Neighbours for users to share and discuss footage captured on its cameras.
Markey asked Bezos for a list of all law enforcement entities with access to Ring footage, and for the company’s plans to add facial recognition technology.