Does Amazon have a reality show for you? And you are the camera operator.

What if all the talk in the United States about the right to biometric privacy was limited to advocates, academics, some journalists, a minority of elected officials, and a proportionately small number of ordinary citizens?

In September 2019, Andy Jassy, ​​then Amazon CEO of the company’s Web Services unit, told PBS’ Frontline that violations of someone’s privacy are their responsibility.

Libertarian-leaning Jassy says in the video that if Amazon breaches someone’s privacy through biometric (or other) privacy practices, that person can report it to the global retailer and the company. of cumulus cloud services. Amazon may review the complaint and take action or not.

It was a startling statement at the time, and it’s possible his views have since evolved (the topic has apparently not come up in interviews since he became Amazon’s CEO).

But what if he was right to be dismissive? Jassy wouldn’t have been the first corporate executive to self-servingly redefine privacy and hear a yawn from consumers.

Ring Nation could answer that question.

Starting Sept. 26, MGM Television and Big Fish Entertainment, both owned by Amazon, will launch syndicated TV show Ring Nation, according to entertainment trade publication Deadline.

The reality show will consist entirely of slices of life collected by Ring doorbells/security cameras made by Amazon. Ring Nation will be hosted by acerbic comedian and actress Wanda Sykes.

It will be a clip show, like TikTok with an editorial structure.

If it’s similar programming before social media, Ring Nation will have heartwarming content (a dog taking care of a duckling, for example), military reunions, and unintentional but funny physical comedy (men hit in the groin with anything).

But to be picked up, everything will have to happen in front of a doorbell, many of which overlook a public road. Someone moving down this street might have told their boss an hour ago that they were too sick to work. This may be where people gather for a political rally.

What happens to this video is anything but clear.

With the Ring’s Protect subscription plan, the provider typically allows system owners to store footage in Amazon’s cloud services through the Ring’s Neighbors app or on Ring.com for 180 days. Still images, called Snapshot Captures, cannot be stored for more than seven days.

But anything saved in a service called Neighborhoods is retained by Amazon indefinitely. Additionally, Ring videos shared with others appear to have no end-of-storage date.

This is where the details end and the questions begin.

Is there anyone in the fair street game for inclusion or will the owners or producers obtain informed consent from the subjects? Videos arriving at MGM with pixelation protecting non-consenting faces?

While Amazon spells out its removal policies on Ring.com, it does a good job of not pointing visitors to them. It is not clear that the videos will actually be deleted or how that would happen. Will they be deleted?

How long will videos submitted for Ring Nation be stored by MGM and Big Fish? Both are part of Amazon, but their need to create broadcast content could mean images or other biometric identifiers of non-consenting people captured by a Ring camera could live for years.

There is a bigger question, however. A TV show like Ring Nation could go a long way in normalizing private surveillance, perhaps close to the point of ubiquity in some neighborhoods. If the TikTok phenomenon is any measure, Ring doorbells could be seen by people as an invitation to fame, if not wealth.

Is Jassy the safe bet?

Will Americans storm Seattle if Amazon properties take advantage of their privacy and biometric identity? Or will they come to view their privacy as a cryptocurrency that buys a lottery ticket?

Article topics

Amazon | biometric identifiers | biometrics | consumer electronics | data privacy | Doorbells | smart homes | video surveillance

About Roberto Frank

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