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From the Pages of Orlando Weekly: The Smart Doorbell Ring system and Privacy rights

Image:  ring smart doorbell, ring.com
Image: ring smart doorbell, ring.com

When you buy a smart doorbell, it’s usually in order to gain more control over your safety. But as more and more people buy these devices, they may not realize what types of control they’re giving away.

The Ring system’s camera and intercom link with your phone to give you a visual if a car or person approaches your home, and the ability to speak to the presumed intruder. With the add-on app, you can share these videos with your neighbors — and the police, who partner with Ring to monitor the app through their own portal.

What people may not realize when they agree to Ring’s terms of service is that they’ve signed away a significant chunk of their constitutionally mandated privacy: Part of the deal is that police no longer need a warrant to request security video. And if users don’t hand it over, police can request it directly from Amazon, Ring’s parent company, leaving the decision in their hands.

Blanket surveillance is a reality in many countries — in the U.K., it’s a major part of policing; in China, as we’ve seen recently in Hong Kong, it’s used to track and control protests. But with Ring, law enforcement has scored a coup: Not only are we sacrificing privacy for perceived safety, we’re paying for the equipment and the bandwidth. It’s something to think about. Do you own the camera, or does it own you?