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Amazon’s plan to add face surveillance to your front door

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While the details are sketchy, the application describes a system that the police can use to match the faces of people walking by a doorbell camera with a photo database of persons they deem “suspicious.” Likewise, homeowners can also add photos of “suspicious” people into the system and then the doorbell’s facial recognition program will scan anyone passing their home. In either case, if a match occurs, the person’s face can be automatically sent to law enforcement, and the police could arrive in minutes.


The ACLU’s test is consistent with academic research demonstrating that face surveillance technology is less accurate for darker skinned faces and women. These systems threaten to further entangle people with law enforcement, ripping families apart and increasing the likelihood of racially biased police violence. In addition, this technology puts activists and protesters in danger when exercising their First Amendment rights.


Imagine if a neighborhood was set up with these doorbell cameras. Simply walking up to a friend’s house could result in your face, your fingerprint, or your voice being flagged as “suspicious” and delivered to a government database without your knowledge or consent. With Amazon selling the devices, operating the servers, and pushing the technology on law enforcement, the company is building all the pieces of a surveillance network, reaching from the government all the way to our front doors.


Homes in white flight suburbs will soon be able to automatically call the cops on black people

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2 hours ago, Kal-El814 said:

Hey whatever helps you sleep at night. :p


You know what helps me sleep at night? My Philips Hue bulbs that I can turn off by asking my Echo Dot. Or the Alexa smart plug that is connected to a space heater that turns on automatically to make my bedroom slightly warmer in the morning when I wake up.

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Given the well documented bias in face recognition systems, this tech isn't ready for primetime. Especially since unless something serious like B&E happens, police seem to think it's not worth their time and I can only imagine the ones they do respond to being more biased.


In 5-10 years, I don't think I'd have a problem with it, depending on implementation.





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First of all, this is a patent application, not a service description. Patent applications happen very early on in the creation of a real service, product, or feature and very often to not reflect what they would actually put out into the world. They're also incentivized to be as broad as possible, so while the patent might specify "suspicious," an actual product might only bother to identify wanted felons, or it might just work like Nest cameras and recognize family members so it doesn't alert you when it's someone you know.


That said, there is a very real concern here based on the existing Ring community. For those unaware, if you have a Ring video doorbell (Ring is now owned by Amazon), there is a "Neighbors" section of the app that allows users to submit videos they're concerned about. Some of the videos are evidence of real crimes, primarily car theft, or at least attempted car theft. Ring has community managers that try and get these videos directly to local police. However, most of the videos posted are not that. Many are package thieves, but most are simply "suspicious person," mostly solicitors.


If Ring were to implement something that identified, tracked, and reported people to the police on the basis of community suspicion, there is zero doubt in my mind that it would immediately become a racist nightmare, at least in my neighborhood. I would like to think that since Ring already has people manually sorting through Ring neighborhood posts that they'd be aware of this and not implement something as described in the patent, but it wouldn't be the first time Amazon has overstepped privacy bounds.

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  • 1 month later...

I have a nest doorbell that lets me save names to people the camera sees. This way every other time that person comes to the door it tells me who is there without having to go into the app and look. It works great and gets the face right every time. So fuck yes I want shit that will call the cops when known criminals come to my door. Who the fuck wouldn't? 

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On 12/13/2018 at 10:36 AM, SFLUFAN said:

I have zero interest in having smart devices in my home either.

You dont need google or amazon for a smart home. I have zero interest in thinking about turning my lights on or off. Seriously, why do we even need to think about that! We have technology do so many things for us, but the light switch, nope! 

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