Half of the announcements out of Amazon’s found people of color were disproportionately labeled as “suspicious” in the Neighbors app, a phenomenon that feeds into racism and hyper-vigilance, creating less-safe environments overall.


Ring has taken steps to address some of these issues, such as changing the wording in the Neighbors app from “suspicious” to “unexpected activity.” Additionally, police will no longer be able to send bulk emails to Ring users who might have footage they want — instead, there’s a portal on Neighbors where they can request footage publicly. Of course, these aren’t solutions. Changing a word does nothing to temper the breeding ground of suspicion and racism inherent in the Neighbors app, and making police requests public doesn’t stop them from happening, warrantless and with broad boundaries that are still determined by Amazon, a massive ecommerce company.

“The network is predicated on perpetuating irrational fear of neighborhood crime, often yielding disproportionate scrutiny against people of color, all for the purposes of selling more cameras,” the EFF said in June. “Ring does so through police partnerships, which now encompass 1 in every 10 police departments in the United States. At their core, these partnerships facilitate bulk requests from police officers to Ring customers for their camera footage, built on a growing Ring surveillance network of millions of public-facing cameras. EFF adamantly opposes these Ring-police partnerships and advocates for their dissolution.”

As Amazon continues to build out its Ring ecosystem, police partnerships intact, it’s clear that the company is not focused on rebuilding public policy, reducing crime or eliminating everyday racism. Amazon is focused on selling Ring cameras; Amazon is focused on making money. Personally, that doesn’t make me feel safe.