Amazon risks creating 'surveillance state' with network of Ring cameras across the UK

AMAZON'S Ring doorbell risks turning the UK into a "surveillance state", experts have warned.

The popular security camera is designed to keep your home and neighbourhood safe – but has terrifying 1984-style privacy implications, a new documentary has revealed.

Ring cameras attach to your doorframe and let you see who's outside your property remotely using an app.

Intruders are flagged up, and this footage can be handed over to the police.

In the UK, some police forces (including London's Met) are handing out cameras for free to some residents – as part of a partnership with Amazon.

But tonight's BBC Panorama special ‘Amazon: What They Know About Us’ raises major concerns about the doorbell.

"It is a simple reality of humanity that we all need private spaces where we're not observed," said Roger McNamee, a Silicon Valley investor.

"Where we can be at peace, where we can be our true selves without fear of being exposed or being exploited,"

The main fear in the UK is around the Neighbors app, which currently operates in the UK.

It links cameras around a neighbourhood, and lets police officers request data from residents.

This potentially gives police forces access to sweeping surveillance networks across entire neighbourhoods.

Residents can also flag up suspicious behaviour in their areas.

"Get real-time crime and safety alerts from your neighbors and local law enforcement," said Amazon.

"Always know when and where crime happens in your area, and share updates to keep you and your community safe.

"Together we can create stronger communities, just like the neighbors below."

Are Ring cameras safe?

Here's what cyber-expert Gavin Millard, of security firm Tenable, told The Sun…

  • "Recently, we’ve seen a number of stories of Ring cameras being compromised.
  • "These intrusions aren't due to vulnerabilities in the firmware but how the devices have been set up.
  • "According to a blog post from Ring, attackers are using stolen credentials from previous, unrelated breaches against Ring accounts to see if the 'keys' work, often referred to as credential stuffing.
  • "I personally use Ring for my own home, and one of the reasons I chose their ecosystem was its support of two factor authentication, although this isn't enabled by default.
  • "This means users must select this option for themselves when installing the devices.
  • "At the moment, many IoT device manufacturers consider usability versus security for an end-user's ‘out of the box’ experience.
  • "I’d advocate this must be reversed so we see security policies, such as two factor authentication, enabled by default.
  • "Until then, do yourself a favour and take the time to set it up – it's a simple process that takes 30 seconds and the additional peace of mind is worth it."

But if it launched in the UK, Neighbors could quickly turn into something akin to a surveillance state, experts warn.

"If the Neighbors app was to be introduced into this country, it would change the dynamic of that surveillance to being one of more than simply community reassurance,  to a state form of surveillance," said Tony Porter, the Surveillance Camera Commissioner, during the BBC Panorama special.

"And this lays a foundation for a network that quite rightly and properly causes concerns for people that don't want to live in a society that is enmeshed in surveillance cameras.

"We could end up in a surveillance state, and I don't know anybody that wants to live in a surveillance state."

In a statement given to The Sun, an Amazon spokesperson said: “Ring has donated devices to a number of organisations and individuals in the UK after being approached to help support their efforts to make communities safer.

“We design any and all programs with our three pillars of security, privacy and user control at the forefront.

“Police are not given access to users’ cameras or devices by Ring.”

We’ve asked Amazon if there are any plans to launch Neighbors in the UK and will update this story with any response.

In other news, we reveal the best Alexa tips and tricks.

A terrified mum says her Amazon Echo speaker urged her to kill herself.

And Amazon recently launched an Alexa ring and a smart oven.

Do you trust Amazon to protect your privacy? Let us know in the comments!

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