Call Today for a FREE Consultation

262-923-8761

24 HOUR EMERGENCY CONTACT

Does police use of Amazon’s Ring constitute illegal surveillance?

| Sep 23, 2019 | Criminal Defense

The Ring doorbell sold by Amazon offers homeowners security by filming and recording everyone who enters its field of vision. Along with the product comes access to a social network called Neighbors, where Ring users can share and discuss the footage their systems capture.

It is not just neighbors who share that footage, however. More and more often, law enforcement is making deals with Amazon and Ring users to obtain the security footage — even when no crime has occurred.

It’s quite concerning to imagine law enforcement having access to the personal security footage of every Ring doorbell owner, especially if the systems become widespread. That could potentially allow police to observe every corner of American life with no need for a warrant.

Even more concerning, however, is that Ring is planning to implement facial recognition technology. Moreover, Amazon is marketing Rekognition, its facial recognition software, to police departments. How surreal would it be for the police to be able to pull up your particular whereabouts at any given time?

Yet the problem isn’t just that such surveillance would be unprecedented, unnecessary and a violation of American civil liberties. There’s also the fact that facial recognition technologies have at least one serious flaw that isn’t being addressed: they’re very bad at recognizing people of color.

Facial recognition’s race problem

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union did a study on Rekognition. They fed in images of every member of Congress to see if they would match anyone in a database of mugshots. Much to the dismay of all involved, Rekognition incorrectly identified 28 members of Congress as people who had been arrested.

While the members of Congress who were misidentified included people from both parties, both men and women, and legislators of all ages, they were disproportionately people of color. Six — over 21% — were members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.) recently penned a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressing his alarm that Amazon and Ring are pursuing facial recognition tech — and rolling it out while it is still so inaccurate.

He also pointed out that sharing Ring footage with police “could easily create a surveillance network that places dangerous burdens on people of color” and stoke “racial anxieties” I communities where the footage is shared. And, he expressed concern about the civil liberties of innocent passersby who don’t know they are under surveillance.

Markey is asking for a list of all the police agencies that are accessing Ring footage, along with Amazon’s facial recognition technology plan.

We’re in a period of extremely low crime. Why is law enforcement stepping up surveillance of innocent people?

Archives

“I just want to say thank you for the outstanding work you have done for him and let you know how much we appreciate the time and attention you gave to his case. We are obviously overjoyed by today’s dismissal!” (Child pornography case dismissed after motion to suppress was granted)”

“After having had time to exhale, we thank each one of you and all the others who contributed to the exemplary Supreme Court presentation. We are proud of your efforts on our behalf and, equally important, on behalf of the many present and future defendants statewide.” (Client’s comment after Supreme Court oral argument)

“Thank you. Thank you. I am so pleased to hear that we won. It doesn’t seem that it was even a close call. I appreciate your efforts.” (Oconto County defendant after Buting, Williams & Stilling got his prison sentence overturned in the court of appeals) ”

“Your time and advice was appreciated more than words can express at a time when we really needed someone to guide us.” (Client)

“The outcome was amazing, one unavailable even under identical circumstances in probably 98 percent of federal courtrooms around the country. Separate and apart from the outcome, though, I am supremely impressed by your efforts on your client’s behalf. Your comments in support of the requested sentence were perfect in tone and, having now reviewed the extensive sentencing memorandum you filed, your work in that regard was exemplary as well. Your client was certainly fortunate to have you as his attorney.” (Local federal court attorney present at a sentencing)

“I can’t thank you enough, not only for all of the tireless work that you and your staff put into my case, but for telling me what I needed to hear, at a time when I absolutely had to hear it. I consider myself blessed for everything turning out the way it did, especially since I blindly picked you out of a phone book! You helped me, my family and friends in many more ways than the money ever could.” (Child pornography client)

“I think you will find that in any circles where Kathy’s name is raised, people will always respond positively and identify her as an extremely hardworking, knowledgeable and ethical lawyer who is timely and effective with any endeavor she takes on. These circles would include colleagues, friends, prosecutors, judges, professors and others who have crossed paths with Kathy. They would also include the many lawyers like me who have referred numerous cases to Kathy, invariably with positive feedback from the clients regarding her knowledge of their case, empathy, professionalism and fair-mindedness in addressing their concerns.” (Fellow attorney)

“Thank you for giving [our son] back to us. Wonderful work!” (Family of client accused of armed robbery after charges were dismissed)

“Yes, His perfect time and perfect place, you were a part of this plan. I almost didn’t hire you, but I took a step of faith trusting Him and look what happened? Praise God. Our Lord put you in your vocation for a reason, continue to help those He brings your way. May He bless you in ALL you do!” (Client who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in a northwestern Wisconsin county. He was released from prison after attorneys got his conviction reversed.)

“I really cannot thank you enough for your past help. You really know your stuff. It is actually funny when I think about my other past attorney’s knowledge and then when I talk with you. It’s like night and day. You’re like a walking book of knowledge with a purpose-driven life. Thanks.” (Brown County client of attorney Buting)

“A year later and I still believe your defense is the single best example of lawyering I have ever seen.” (Television reporter commenting on attorney Buting’s defense of Steven Avery)

“You have a certain brilliance that makes me sure that when you talk, it is good information and I am in good hands. You tell it to me like it is even when the things you say are not always the things that I would like to hear. You keep it REAL!!!” (Brown County client)

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! I feel like this was one of the biggest blessings that happened in my life. I put this along with my children being born healthy and when I survived that horrific shooting. I appreciate everything you have done for me. I couldn’t ask for better lawyers. I want to say thank you to everybody at your firm. I owe you more than the fee you so rightfully deserve. … You gave me back hope. Thank you, man! Out of my 36 years … I have never seen such kindness before. I don’t know what I did to deserve this; I’m very thankful nonetheless. Thank you for giving me hope again. Thank you for your generosity. There are still some really good people around.” (Federal criminal appeal client)

“There is no other attorney I’ve ever even heard of I’d rather have as chief counsel and leader of my defense/appeals than Jerome Buting. You’re the best. Period.” (Dane County client)

“Your advice and counsel were greatly appreciated. We appreciate you taking the time on your Sunday and evenings to help us. We are SO happy about the results! Thanks again.” (Waukesha County client)

“Thank you again … for everything. Five and one-half years of commitment, so many ups and downs and an outcome like that. You did a GREAT job.” (Waukesha County felony drug offense client)