EFF Challenges Ring Spokesperson Shaq Over Privacy Concerns

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EFF is asking Ring spokesman Shaquille O’Neal to cancel his appearance at a party hosted by the company at the upcoming International Association of Chiefs of Police conference on October 27. Instead, we’re challenging Shaq to a one-on-one: not on the basketball court, but across the table, so we can discuss with him how the ubiquitous surveillance facilitated by Ring and its privacy-invasive partnerships with police can harm communities. 

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Amazon and Ring have either ignored or dismissed the growing concerns among privacy experts, activists, and communities about the rapidly expanding number of partnerships between Ring and law enforcement. Two months ago, there were under 300; currently, the number has grown to well over 500.

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EFF has decided to reach out to Shaq, who has been a co-owner and spokesperson for Ring since 2016, because of his interest in protecting communities and making them safer. Rather than join these IACP conventions, where Shaq hands out tens of thousands of dollars of Ring hardware to police officers from around the country, we’d like to offer the basketball legend a chance to talk to privacy experts about the damage these partnerships can do. 

Thanks to the partnerships with Ring, police only need to click a button to request hours of footage from dozens of cameras at a time. And, if a user refuses to share their footage with police, officers can bring a warrant to Amazon to get that footage. And once Ring footage ends up with police, it’s considered evidence and out of the company’s control—the obtained footage could be shared beyond your local law enforcement and you would likely never know.

In addition, these cameras pose risks to non-Ring users: every day, thousands of unsuspecting dog-walkers, delivery people, pedestrians, drivers, and others are being surveilled by Ring cameras, and by extension, Amazon, and—thanks to these partnerships—police. While the goal of the company appears to be community safety, there’s little consideration to the safety and privacy for those on the other end of the camera, who automatically become suspect thanks to this omnipresent camera network. The ease with which police can request access to this vast network of cameras can chill free movement, association, speech, and political expression in a neighborhood. 

That’s why we’re turning to Shaq—and you. We’re asking for your help to tweet at Shaq and Ring and ask them to take these privacy concerns seriously. We’re hoping Shaq will sit down with us, one-on-one, and learn how these partnerships turn our neighborhoods into vast, unaccountable surveillance networks. These partnerships with Ring are #NothingButDragnet. 

Visit EFF.org/Ring to find out more, and to watch EFF’s on-court challenge to Shaq.


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