back to article Amazon has repackaged surveillance capitalism as reality TV

It's hard to understand why anyone expressed surprise when Amazon's VP of public policy, Brian Huseman, recently admitted sharing data with police. In case you missed it, Huseman told US senator Edward Markey that although Amazon tells owners of its Ring doorbell-cum-televisual-surveillance-system that footage from their …

  1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    Apathy is the problem

    My neighbour across the road has one of these ring cameras installed... the problem is that his front door, faces his neighbours front door just 4 meters away.

    So he's actually filming her house, and she has two young teenage girls.

    I find that insidiously creepy and I made a point of bringing up the subject to her a few months ago, as she didn't seem aware of it... Her response was basically apathy... a seemingly willing acceptance of 'meh, what can ya do'

    I'm in the UK, we actually have laws about this kind of thing and what this creep is doing... breaks those laws.

    If it was facing my house, he'd have been told to remove it immediately or face the consequences.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      This is how a feel as well. It is far too easy for these video recording things to be setup anywhere with no thought or consideration as to what else is being recorded.

      As far as I am aware these is nothing covering the storage, use and retention of the recordings and even if there is, there is no enforcement.

      The low cost of the cameras and the resultant quality is surprisingly good and as you say, they are not just recording the person at the door.

      But hey, it is all "cool" tech that is cheap and people buy into the entire ethic that it is great to be able to access everything from Apps on your mobile phone and sod the consequences.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      Well that's so very virtuous of you, isn't it? You're branding your across-the-road neighbour 'a creep', when in reality he's probably just an ordinary person concerned for his personal security; there are any number of perfectly legitimate reasons for him to wish to monitor anyone approaching his door.

      But no, you've decided he's 'a creep'. And for why? Because there are teenage girls living in the house opposite? They probably share far more of themselves on their public social media than would ever be seen by a ring doorbell camera... what will the camera see, people going in and out of the front door on the other side of the road?

      But that doesn't matter does it, because you're the self-appointed curtain-twitching Guardian of Morality in your street, and you feel free to defame the chap over the road and spread malicious gossip about him... there are laws in the UK about that, too.

      1. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        Lemme get this straight, anonno...

        You just wrote a premeditated rant on how people should be free to engage in an action that could trouble others and show no consideration for it?

        You're arguing for willful ignorance?

        Nobody said torches and pitchforks, merely watch where you point that thing.

        But this is morally offending to you?

        Perhaps that makes me free to drop big old fashioned country dump on your lawn.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          Hold on. Anon simply pointed out the calling the owner a creep without any actual basis other than his doorbell camera happens to face a house where 2 teenage girls live, is problematic at best.

          1. WanderingHaggis

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            I suspect as far as the neighbour is concerned the camera points at her garden path everything else is just an accident. Also it is the outside of the front door of the house which isn't really pervy. Surveillance is a possibility see who is visiting or keeping logs on when people go out and when the house is empty but I would seriously doubt it.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Apathy is the problem

              "I suspect as far as the neighbour is concerned the camera points at her garden path everything else is just an accident."

              More likely the unit was mounted where the existing door bell button was since that's where there was installed wiring.

              Most of those video cameras have a lens so wide it can almost see the wall they are mounted to. That wide angle lens has the effect of making things appear further away the further away they are. Past a fairly short distance, there aren't enough pixels to resolve many details.

          2. Dagg

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            Not only that the house is "across the road" so the house with the teenage girls is visible from the public road. Are there any security cameras on the public road?

            What about dash cams in cars driving down the "public" road.

            1. Caver_Dave
              Unhappy

              Re: Apathy is the problem

              My local Planning Department allowed a new house extension with the kitchen/diner patio doors at the same level and about 5m away from a teenage girls upstairs bedroom window. (On a slope and so no simple fencing solution to stop the perving.)

              Sent the poor girl into massive depression and failed her exams as a result, ruining the rest of her life.

              Planning Department: move along, "nothing to see here" - yes the second part is a quote, and in extremely bad taste!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Apathy is the problem

                Dear Daily Mail reader, I failed my exams, my life is more than fine.

              2. martinusher Silver badge

                Re: Apathy is the problem

                >at the same level and about 5m away from a teenage girls upstairs bedroom window.

                I know that British homes, especially new build homes, a tiny little things where you live cheek by jowl with your neighbor. There is a solution to this problem -- "curtains". By day, net curtains (its traidtional to twitch them when anything happens in the street). By night, light blocking curtains. I know its an imposition but for those of us who can't afford a detached house with ample gardens affording appropriate privacy its one we're stuck with.

                (This young lady has obviously never lived in a "2 up, 2 down".)(In modern UK it will probably be three "luxury" flats, anyway.)

                1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

                  There is a solution to this problem -- greenbelt houses

                  FFS we need more houses. But we can't build on the greenbelt, where there is more space to put houses further apart, because that will spoil someone's view or otherwise reduce the value of someone's house.

                  Well all I can say to such objectors is, you are the problem. Although there is a silver lining. These same people refuse to pay more tax to fund a larger NHS/care system for the ever-growing older demographic. And the evidence is becoming clearer and clearer -- a poor care system means more deaths. So they are, indirectly, killing themselves off.

                  More houses on greenbelt land, but council houses. This will take pressure off housing, reduce house prices, and reduce rents. But how to pay for it? Well we could have rateable value updated from the 1990s, where politicians were too frightened to continue it. That would suck lots more money back into the economy to help the less well off.

                  Of course because I'm saying we need to shit on the rentier society I'll get heavily downvoted. Which just shows you how shit our society is.

                  1. steviebuk Silver badge

                    Re: There is a solution to this problem -- greenbelt houses

                    More house on greenbelt land means more traffic, more pollution and less trees which are there to combat the pollution. I no longer live in London and never want to go back due to the lack of greenbelt land.

                  2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    Re: There is a solution to this problem -- greenbelt houses

                    "FFS we need more houses"

                    Or, perhaps, fewer people. Or, density limits.

                    When the Beeching cuts took place, many outlying areas got cut off when they still had plenty of space to build more housing that wasn't cheek by jowl. It might be a good idea to look again at the old railway maps and if the right-of-way is still vacant, it could be a good idea to connect those areas once again. After a really quick search, I can see that some lines have been reopened, but maybe not enough. The problem exists in the US too where disused rail right of ways are built over and we've come upon another time where rail makes a load of sense. Particularly electrified rail for both people and products.

          3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            Anon simply pointed out the calling the owner a creep

            OP never did that. He wrote that having the camera positioned such that it has a close view of the neighbor's house is "insidiously creepy".

            Converting an adjective describing an action into a noun labeling a person is a common rhetorical move, elevating the interlocutor's claim of bad action into a stronger strawman claim of systemic wickedness. No one can simply commit the occasional sin; either they're reprobate sinners, or they must be completely innocent.

            The owner of the Ring doorbell may have done something creepy without necessarily being "a creep". The creepy act may well be unintentional. That doesn't make it unproblematic.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Apathy is the problem

              Read his whole post.

              He wrote: "I'm in the UK, we actually have laws about this kind of thing and what this creep is doing."

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Apathy is the problem

                Op says something. Someone replies "he didn't say that". Anon replies "he did. here it is", and quotes the relevant line, and that deserves a downvote?!

            3. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Apathy is the problem

              "The owner of the Ring doorbell may have done something creepy without necessarily being "a creep". The creepy act may well be unintentional. That doesn't make it unproblematic."

              The creepy bit is being perpetrated by Amazon. If the product is only used as intended, it's not a big deal. It's not recording anything unless somebody presses the button or the camera detects a significant presence. If recordings are cached locally, again, not a problem. Somebody wanting to perv on their neighbors could come up with kit more suited for that job. The Ring and other video doorbells have serious limitations. I expect that if I were motivated, I could rig one of my old mobiles with some software to record when it senses movement and strap a cheap telephoto lens on to get a better view. The whole thing would cost a few pounds since I have a stack of unused phones just sitting around.

        2. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          You just wrote a premeditated rant on how people should be free to engage in an action that could trouble others and show no consideration for it?

          People should be free to engage in an action that could trouble others and show no consideration for it.

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            People should be free to engage in an action that could trouble others and show no consideration for it.

            Same sex couples holding hands in public trouble others. Should they show consideration towards homophobes?

      2. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        Thanks for the ignorant rant there chum...

        He has many places he can place the camera that do not intrude on the neighbours, whilst still covering the access up the path towards his front door (not even a shared path with said neighbour).

        He CHOSE, to put it in a position that invades the privacy of another and only serves to show any 'intruder' after they are already up the side of his house, having walked past 2 cars and all of the front windows on the property free and clear from his 'security' camera.

        He's in the wrong, the laws are clear on this... but it would take a complaint from the person who's privacy is being infringed... hence the apathy being the issue... and yeah... he's a creepy dude or his near middle aged son who lives with him is.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          If he was more technically and security aware, then he *may* have chosen to set up some sort of CCTV system that covers only the relevant area. But he probably isn't and he probably saw the marketing for Ring doorbells, their ease of use, setting up and control by smartphone so he went out and bought a *doorbell* which, quite naturally, he fitted onto his *door*.

          There is so much wrong with Ring doorbells but calling something a "creep" for having one with no other evidence of "creepiness" is a bit strong and uncalled for,

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          You clearly implied the camera just happened to be placed outside his front door:

          > "the problem is that his front door, faces his neighbours front door just 4 meters away."

          Any fault here is with your post - you clearly described a situation that would occur normally.

        3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          He's in the wrong, the laws are clear on this...

          He's not doing anything illegal as long as he complies with the rules about domestic CCTV systems, which can be found at https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/domestic-cctv-systems-guidance-for-people-using-cctv/

        4. steviebuk Silver badge

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          Have you seen the footage of the camera? Have you asked to see it? If not you can't really comment on the suitability. Its possible to block out areas of a camera so it doesn't record in those regions. I have a camera up that looks straight ahead. You'd think it wouldn't capture either side of it but it has a fish eye lens so it does.

      3. Michael Habel
        Pint

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        Thanks for saiving me the need to write a simular responce.

      4. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Limits

        If someone wants to set up surveillance of their own property, that's fine.

        If they set cameras and/or audio-recording systems up so that they -- accidentally or no -- surveil another person's property, that is bad.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Limits

          "If they set cameras and/or audio-recording systems up so that they -- accidentally or no -- surveil another person's property, that is bad."

          If somebody could come up with a camera that could be set to record nothing past a certain distance, we'd also have light sabres and torches that we could use without giving ourselves away to distant observers.

          Visual recording is given carte blanche for anything "in public". The laws regarding audio recording can be very strict and vary from place to place. I don't have one of these devices so I'm not sure if the capture audio all of the time or only when the button is pressed or the owner accesses the mic remotely. I also don't know if an audio recording would be admissible in a court even if the person pressing the button didn't affirm their consent. You'd think they'd understand that an electronic device they are communicating through could be recording.

          These devices are "set up" by noobs that think they are cool and are likely not very technically literate. They buy these as everything is in the box with a large sheet of cartoon and some QR codes so any knob can put one in. There isn't any planning or technical consideration. They just want to know when Amazon drops off the latest loads of cheap Chinese tat they've wasted their money buying. They also would like to have some sort of look at the hoodie that removes said cheap tat shortly after it's been lobbed onto the porch by the delivery driver.

          1. Adam JC

            Re: Limits

            Actually, every single CCTV system I've installed over the past 13 years has a 'privacy mask' option to block out unintended areas over privacy concerns (Think neighbours garden, for instance) so that's a moot point.

            I just checked and the Ring has this functionality too, so yeah - If I had one of these pointing at my front door I'd be contacting the owner and requesting to see proof it had been masked/excluded from recording and motion detection personally.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Limits

              > If I had one of these pointing at my front door I'd be contacting the owner and requesting to see proof it had been masked/excluded from recording and motion detection.

              Unless things have changed, the masks effectively blocked off pixels, it didn't do anything with respect to focus. So given two doors directly opposite each other, masking the image region covering the opposite front door and its access would render the door camera practically pointless, although it would be able to show what shoes your caller was wearing.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But no, you've decided he's 'a creep'. And for why?

        Umm, I think it's for having a surveillance camera that automatically records his teenage neighbors whenever they enter or leave the house.

        Yeah, pretty sure that's it.

        Oh, you think that's perfectly understandable? Are they fit?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But no, you've decided he's 'a creep'. And for why?

          Nice guess there, Sherlock. Shows how your mind works!

    3. steelpillow Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      It's more than just apathy. If you mention the privacy/security aspect to most folks, they immediately brand you a paranoid New Age type and block their ears to any and all reality. They are utterly determined to believe that they can trust the likes of Amazon and Google and that no harm can come of their wonderful status symbol, and nothing but a death sentence will change that.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        "If you mention the privacy/security aspect to most folks, they immediately brand you a paranoid New Age type and block their ears to any and all reality"

        I blame it on the poor schools. They've never been taught the meaning of privacy and secrecy. While they may not have an "secrets", they should be very concerned about their privacy. Unfortunately, they've consolidated the definition of both words in the worst possible way. My dear old mum has the problem too and I worry. She thinks that nobody would target her when she is a big fat target for fast talking scammers looking to relieve her of her retirement funds.

        Cory Doctorow covers the topic in several of his talks available on YouTube. He is far more eloquent than I am and has put more thought into the topic.

    4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      If it was facing my house, he'd have been told to remove it immediately or face the consequences.

      And what would these be?

      1. John69

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        If in the UK, the ICO has a tool to determine this: https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/domestic-cctv-systems-guidance-for-people-being-filmed/

        It frequently ends up with "Call the police".

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          From the link: "However, in most CCTV-related disputes between neighbours, the ICO will not consider it appropriate or proportionate to take enforcement action against the CCTV user."

          As for the police. Plod is too over-worked to deal with old-fashioned burglaries. I can't see them even turning up for this. Simply having it on the door is not going to count as "harassing or intimidating". If they've set up a camera on a tripod pointing into your bathroom, you might be in with a chance. Anything less than that, and you're hiring solicitors yourself.

          1. Mike 137 Silver badge

            Minor edit for clarity

            From the link:"However, in most CCTV-related disputes between neighbours, the ICO will not consider it appropriate or proportionate to take enforcement action against the CCTV user."

            Clarified version: "However, in most individual complaints, the ICO will not consider it appropriate or proportionate to take enforcement action."

          2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            "I can't see them even turning up for this."

            So the ICO and the plod are apathetic, too.

          3. gerryg

            RE: Plod is too over-worked to deal with old-fashioned burglaries

            https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/how-did-theft-become-effectively-decriminalised-in-britain-

            [T]he clear-up rate for theft has plunged to such a low point that in some areas the Victims’ Commissioner...is concerned that it has become almost decriminalised.

            Until 2015, the proportion of thefts which led to a suspect being charged or summonsed to appear in court hovered around 10 per cent. In 2021-22, the rate had fallen to 4.1 per cent, lower than any other crime group apart from sexual offences.

            c.f. "hate crime" (sorry for long URL)

            https://www.hampshire-pcc.gov.uk/police-and-crime-commissioner-donna-jones-responds-to-video-published-on-twitter-involving-hampshire-police-officers-regarding-alleged-hate-crime

            1. OhForF'
              Trollface

              RE: Plod is too over-worked to deal with old-fashioned burglaries

              Just shows we right pondians are way ahead of the left pondians in defunding the police

          4. the Jim bloke Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            If you want to get a response, the complaint would best come from the teenage girls, with potential escalation to tabloid media involvement.

            This would rouse the torch and pitchfork contingent... but also increase the number of supposed creeps from 2 (+ Amazon) to thousands...

            basically the nuclear option, with only cockroaches as winners

          5. Flywheel

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            Talking of Plod, we had a spate of anti-social behaviour outside our and neighbours houses, and luckily we were able to capture a couple of weeks-worth of depressing yobbery on our front door CCTV (not a Ring). The first thing the police asked when we eventually involved them was "do you have CCTV?" and "can you send us a copy of the relevant bits?". We duly did, and the problem was sorted within weeks.

            Prior to that though, we made damn' sure with the aid of the installer that other peoples' privacy was maintained as far as possible which we were able to do because of the cam's ball and socket mounting. Ultimately, from the (limited) overspill coverage our immediate neighbours will benefit if their property is threatened.

            1. Adam JC

              Re: Apathy is the problem

              FYI every NVR/DVR I've ever seen (And even standalone cameras) have a 'privacy mask' option where you can black out overlapping property boundaries. Most installers don't even know about it :-)

              We've done a few installs where the neighbours got all uppity (And fair enough) as it overlooked their garden(s). After privacy masking it (It just shows black squares over their garden) and showing them the image once we were done, it was enough to quash any concerns!

          6. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            This case says different

            https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/plumber-fears-losing-home-100k-25216095.amp

            Ignore the plumber knob. Read the court documents for it instead as not only did he lie in his statement which changed in court, most of what he said in the papers was also bollocks.

            1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

              Re: Apathy is the problem

              I've only skimmed the judgement, but it's clear the defendant has gone well beyond installing a ring doorbell.

              But my reading (para 127, para 134) is that just installing an ordinary ring doorbell would be fine - except issues around the microphone (para 137). You can only have the audio on as needed to converse with someone; keeping it on 24/7 would likely be unlawful.

              Anyway, your honour, I said that the police or ICO wouldn't intervene, and that you would have to hire your own solicitors, which is what appears to have happened. And most of us know a helluva lot of unlawful data processing goes on and would fail if it ever came to court. It's beyond the means and time of most of us to remedy.

        2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          There are subleties here, taking video footage, and publishing it are different matters. If the neighbour was sharing the footage with 3rd parties and the kids were identifiable, the Police might take an interest. If the neighbour is merely gathering footage for the purpose of security, and don't intend to view it unless there is an incident, I doubt any agency would look into it.

          1. Filippo Silver badge

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            If it's sending the footage to Amazon, then it is sharing it with a third party. That's a much bigger no-no than mere CCTV.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Apathy is the problem

              "If it's sending the footage to Amazon, then it is sharing it with a third party. "

              Not only that, but Amazon would likely be looking to monetize the footage in some way. It might not be cash, but preferential treatment for things that affect Amazon or their contractors. They can say that since they've been so generous "sharing" footage from Ring devices, they expect that any calls for service from them should get a priority. None of this in writing, of course.

        3. Michael Habel

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          And, here I thought it only recorded what was immediatly in front of it. If a modicum of what your insinuating were true beyound that. Your beef is NOT with your Neghbor, bur with Ring, and by proxy Jeff Bezos.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Apathy is the problem

            And, here I thought it only recorded what was immediatly in front of it.

            What rock have you been living under? With the resolution those units have they already show a clear enough picture of someone starting to walk up the garden path ten meters away to be able to use that for identification purposes. And their coverage combined with the resolution has already been the subject of several articles here on El Reg.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Apathy is the problem

              The capability of CCTV systems is vastly overestimated by most people. Think of the footage you see on Crimewatch, not CSI.

              I have a proper system with 4K IP cameras and 8TB of storage. Much better than any doorbell camera. I have carefully tuned it to get the best possible footage. But even then you cannot get a clear picture of people or vehicles unless there is good lighting and weather and they are within a few metres, looking right at the camera and standing still.

              Try to positively identify a person walking along the street 15 metres away, or read a moving car number plate, not a chance.

              One of my neighbours had a break in one night and the best we could determine was that there were three people in a grey BMW. Which is helpful, but not enough to convict anybody.

              1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

                Re: Apathy is the problem

                The capability of CCTV systems is vastly underestimated by most people. Twenty years ago I got to play with a company's newly-installed security camera system. The camera was mounted on the top of a 15-story building, and had joystick-controllable tilt, pan, and zoom. At full zoom, I couldn't quite make out the plate numbers of a car 3/4 mile away, but I could tell that driver was wearing a wedding ring. Anyone on the campus it could view was clearly identifiable. The cameras have only gotten better over time.

                Point being, capabilities will vary substantially between cameras.

                1. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: Apathy is the problem

                  >Twenty years ago I got to play with a company's newly-installed security camera system...

                  That's old school CCTV, where the cost of installation made it worthwhile installing a camera with good optics and (optical) zoom. It's what the police did with their camera poles.

              2. MrReynolds2U

                Re: Apathy is the problem

                There are significant differences in quality of 4K cameras and recording systems. Not only do you have the camera's sensor quality to take into account, but also the auto-zoom, face-tracking, codecs, compression and probably a few other factors.

                I've worked with high quality, well configured systems and they are a lot better than what you see on Crimewatch but mostly I see crap consumer-grade stuff. If you have a decent quality screen grab then there are ways to find a person using their digital footprint and a few other techniques.

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Apathy is the problem

                  "Not only do you have the camera's sensor quality to take into account, but also the auto-zoom, face-tracking, codecs, compression and probably a few other factors."

                  Lenses are usually the weakest link. With the high pixel count mirrorless cameras that are out today, there isn't sufficient resolving power within the lens to make full use of the sensor. Since optics cost of manufacture rise exponentially with quality, they are nearly always the limiting factor. Sure, the sensor is 4k and the electronics aren't half bad, but the cheap plastic lens that hasn't been cleaned since it was installed is total crap. A 1080p sensor with a really good lens will be much better than a 4k sensor with a cheap lens, all other things being equal.

              3. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Apathy is the problem

                "lighting and weather and they are within a few metres, looking right at the camera and standing still."

                Lighting is a big factor, but if you aren't getting good images unless somebody is standing still, the shutter speed (or equivalent) is too slow and the image is being blurred. Raising the sensitivity (ISO) is in order if you have enough control over the camera to do that. It's best to place cameras near eye height and conceal them so they don't look like a camera. A bulky camera mounted at a height is why all of the targets wear hoodies.

                I am always amazed when a jewelry shop is robbed for thousands of dollars in merchandise on display and it looks like they spent the absolute minimum on a CCTV system. I know the local corner shop that caters to the welfare mob in town is like that. I've had a word with the owner, but he is still DIY'ing it and it shows. I guess he figures that it's such a small town that even a pretty lousy photo will be enough for the plod to know who the person is having dealt with them several times before. The problem is when he finally gets hit by some out-of-towners that are informed that the store stocks a fair bit of cash for their check cashing service.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        > And what would these be?

        An enforcement notice requiring the doorbell owner to erect the relevant "CCTV in operation" notices and possibly a fine for not registering a CCTV system that extends beyond the boundaries of your own property.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          If he hasn't already done these things, of course. But if he hasn't then an enforcement notice and a (small) fine will certainly show him.

    5. Stork Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      Vaseline, spray paint? Wouldn’t that solve the problem?

      1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        I think criminal damage is considered worse than implied intrusion into privacy. Although, as already pointed out, post-austerity police officers have no time left for such small fry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          I imagine that if you're a lawyer who wants to make a name for yourselve (disruptive ways, etc, etc), and your neighbour is a (...) with their cameras, the best, though somewhat risky way would be go up to that cam with a can of spray, stop long enough to be recorded in all your glory, spray, and then let THEM wait for the police ;)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          It's Hammer Time! (Sends out sledgehammer-equipped robot to smash the offending camera.)

        3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Asymmetric Warfare

          This problem (legally dealing with invasive other-peoples' CCTV cameras) is a subset of a greater problem: bad people taking unfair advantage of other people with impunity. Part 1: Officialdom has taken all law enforcement under its umbrella, yet does not provide complete service - much slips under their radar, due to limited resources. Part 2: "good" people are trained by society to be polite, and to "grin and bear it" when affronted. Other people take advantage of this. Part 3: if you have a polite chat with the offender, and get no useful resolution, you are effectively barred from escalating to vigilantism, because the offender can go to the plods and there you are, obvious suspect #1.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Amazon bringeth, Amazon can taketh away

        Aren't we supposed to be IT types?

        Alternative solutions* may be found here-

        https://www.amazon.co.uk/uv-laser-pointer/s?k=uv+laser+pointer

        Although may need some.. adjustment, or beam combining to turn into an effective UV laser, as in the non-visible kind. Which would also need some care, attention and preferably some appropriate safety glasses on account of UV not triggering the blink response.

        Not sure what response it'd trigger in a RIng piece, other than eventual smoke because I'm assuming it'd have some form of UV filtering or protection to deal with being left in the sun.

        *or ways to be arrested for criminal damage, possession of offensive weapons etc.

        1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

          Re: Amazon bringeth, Amazon can taketh away

          A carefully positioned solar LED light, one of those really fucking bright ones... shining right into the camera. With a battery large enough to power it all night for several days if it doesn't get enough sunlight.

          Funnily enough, when ever we've bought solar lights for the garden... after the first year if/when we put them away over winter. I strip them down and replace the 300-500mah AAA/AA battery in most of them with 1000-1400mah AAA/AA ones.

          We've got a large light on the shed that's ultra bright and has about 150 LED's on it, that covers 3 directions as well as some down firing ones. It had 2000mah battery in it as it was a motion sensor one. It's now got 4000mah in it.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Amazon bringeth, Amazon can taketh away

            "after the first year if/when we put them away over winter. I strip them down and replace the 300-500mah AAA/AA battery"

            A big reason they have those lower capacity cells is the solar cell isn't good enough to recharge anything larger. It might have been Dave at the EEVblog that covered it or maybe Big Clive. I wondered about that pokey cell when I had some of those lights. If you don't charge the battery cell close to full and repeatedly run it flat, that could lower the life of the more expensive cells. The voltage will also start out lower when the LED's come on and will drop quickly so you get poorer lighting all around.

      3. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        That's actually one of the solutions I would consider... every time you go out, smear some vaseline across the camera. It's not damaging it, it's inconveniencing them... and sure, they could call the police... and explain why they have a camera point at the neighbours house that can see INTO said house if the door is opened.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Apathy is the problem

          That's actually one of the solutions I would consider... every time you go out, smear some vaseline across the camera. It's not damaging it, it's inconveniencing them... and sure, they could call the police... and explain why they have a camera point at the neighbours house that can see INTO said house if the door is opened.

          Of course you would have to be absolutely sure that the neighbour didn't have some sort of recording device which would capture you leaving your front door and committing criminal damage, but apart from that, great plan.

      4. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        I've always wonder if shining a laser at the cameras would screw them. Can always claim "I accidently pointed it that way". I'm assuming they have protection so it doesn't ruin the sensor?

    6. 43300 Bronze badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      Creepy? well maybe (if it's intentional, which it might not be) but the laws are sufficiently vague that it would be difficult take any action against a private individual doing this. If it was CCTV being operated by a business then there is likely to be a stronger argument that it would.

    7. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      It's good that you have mentioned this to the mother, because that's certainly where I would have started also. But - may I suggest that instead of going straight for the 'creep' jugular, you maybe approach said neighbour (unless of course you already have and had a negative reaction that warrants the 'creep' label) and point out that his Ring is recording more than just his immediate front door.

      Four metres is not much...

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      Doesn't break any laws mate.

    9. Si 1

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      You seem to think Ring cameras are constantly recording- they aren't. They're motion activated and you can specify the distance from the camera at which motion triggers them. Even then, I've found they're only good at spotting movement about 3-4 metres away.

      You say your other neighbour opposite is 4 metres away, which seems unlikely. I know we have some narrow streets with terraced housing in the UK but even then when you factor in pavements and a road it seems unlikely to be just 4 metres.

      Finally, the picture quality of the doorbell is only any good up close. If you think it can see in through windows and resolve details (even if they're allegedly 4 metres away), you're sorely mistaken.

      Still, I'm sure this won't stop you from being the self-appointed Pedo Finder General for your street...

      1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        Utterly failing to take into consideration any house that has a door on the side of it instead of the front... Of which there are probably several million in the country. This one road alone has about 150 houses, and about a third of them are built this way. Front doors are no more than 4 meters apart and a camera placed on one door is able to see INTO the house if the door is opened.

        But according to you... that's just perfectly fine and acceptable.

        As I said... apathy is a problem (along with blind ignorance for some)

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        "you can specify the distance from the camera at which motion triggers them."

        Vaguely. What happens is more of the frame has to see a change in a certain time interval for it to trigger. It could be a person a couple of meters away or a removal van even further away. It could also be the shadow of a bird since the system doesn't determine what's in the frame, only that a certain percentage has changed rapidly enough. It might also trigger from a tree branch swaying in the breeze or reflections from a dangly ornament.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        >You say your other neighbour opposite is 4 metres away, which seems unlikely.

        Well a previous (modern) house had mine and the neighbours front doors facing each other across our two adjacent access paths, total width of the passageway circa 10 feet.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      The neighbour should install by their front door some IR LED's or near IR Leds to swamp the camera to seek privacy (I would).

    11. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      Most of us adults are, or have been, parents of "young teenage girls". You might find it difficult to believe this butt here are literally millions of men out there who do not slaver at the thought of tender, young, teenage whatever....if you've had any experience of parenting then you'd know that.

      Now, this is a UK site. A country where you can't stick you nose out of doors without ending up on a surveillance camre. A country where your every movement is tracked by even more cameras, where vehicle registration plates are by law machine readable ("in infrared light") and where information collected on you is routinely held for years. Yet you tell me you're concerned about a neighbor's rather naff wide angle doorbell camera?

      As for us Americans, its wise not to be too complacent. Our Bill of Rights does restrict how the government spies on us but the founders didn't envisage a future where private companies might collect the information and hten sell it to the government so they forgot to include this in the paperwork. Now we're saddled with a staunchly originalist Supreme Court its not like to be updated, either. As for that other Great American Custom, threatening physical violence on someone because you're holding what you think is the moral high ground......Please! We're supposed to be a civilized country.

    12. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      There’s a large house near me which is on a corner at the junction of two roads. It’s in London and was sold a short while ago, and the new owners did it up which most people thought was unnecessary. They added cameras around the exterior of the house pointing in various directions. At least one of them was pointing at the upstairs windows of a house across the street.

      Then one day they were just removed, no one saw them go they were just gone. The local gossip was that someone had been round and explained the laws of the land. Someone later said that they’d heard from the new owners that the cameras were put up by the builders to keep an eye on their equipment and removed when they left. This doesn’t stack up though (and no one believes it) because the cameras went a long time before the builders did.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        "Someone later said that they’d heard from the new owners that the cameras were put up by the builders to keep an eye on their equipment and removed when they left."

        It's reasonable to believe the builders put the cameras up to keep an eye on their tools and materials. Theft from buildings undergoing renovation is very common. Tools are very easy to resell. There was just a big bust in California where they found over 120 forklifts, diggers and other construction equipment in the process of having their serial numbers removed and a big of repainting to cover up the owner's logo's, etc. Construction equipment isn't subject to the same titling laws as vehicles. A brace of used power tools is also hard to track and just the price of the battery packs can make stealing them very profitable.

    13. Barry Rueger

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      France actually has laws prohibiting home security cams etc that record public spaces and neighbours ' property.

    14. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      I have a big problem with this. You can't just accuse a guy who, most likely, innocently put a camera up on his door and not thought anything about the neighbour or filming her two daughters. I'm assuming if the guy was a woman, you wouldn't have the same thought. This is as bad as the idiots way back in 2000 that attacked a paediatricians house as they thought it was related to the word paedophile.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/aug/30/childprotection.society

      However. In the UK if you have CCTV recording that go beyond your land to public land you are required to have a sign up warning of this and have contact details. So anyone can apply for Right to Be forgotten or do a SAR request. You are allowed to use CCTV to protect your property. Amazon door bells are a bad move as they record audio as well which you really have to be careful about. As the plumber found in this article. Don't listen to his bollocks though, read the court documents which I did. Turns out he lied on his statement which he changed in court. He was aggressive to the Dr when she questioned him about his cameras. And apparently said something along the lines of, to another neighbour, "She'll hate it more with the new cameras that will be able to see her eyeballs from my house". Oh and he lied about half the cameras being fake. They were active and recording.

      www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/plumber-fears-losing-home-100k-25216095.amp

      I do have issues though with the cameras. No one warns people when they are putting them up and some of us just can't be arsed with the aggro of complaining or taking it to court. We have a clear case with the dick next door. Not bothered to bring it up but if we went to court we'd have a good case. He put a ring door bell up. But he put it on a old bit of wood attached to his house which is at a slight angle. Because of this angle it records his front yard and all of ours. I make a point of not talking when I leave or enter the house as I know it will be picked up.

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Apathy is the problem

        The current down voter is probably the same type of person that would of done what was done to Bijan Ebrahimi

        "Bijan Ebrahimi, 44, had taken a series of photographs of local youths attacking his hanging baskets and intended to hand the images to police as evidence.

        But someone saw him with the camera and told police that Ebrahimi, who was registered disabled and couldn't work, had taken pictures of children.

        Officers took him away for questioning and as Ebrahimi left his council maisonette in Bristol residents began chanting: "Paedo, paedo"."

        So if we take this example and look at the original OPs statement. He's pretty much done the same "Neighbour , who I already think is creepy has put up a ring door bell. So he must be doing it for creepy reasons because the house opposite happens to have 2 girls living in it. If the "creepy" neighbour was a woman, I wouldn't think the ring door bell position was creepy. I'll go tell everyone he's creepy with no evidence. Someone will hopefully report it to the police, he'll be taken in for questioning & found totally innocent but I'll still continue to shout he's creepy and got questioned by the police and potentially ruin his life if everyone listens to my bullshit".

    15. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      And another reason you shouldn't be straight saying creep with no evidence, especially out loud to other neighbours

      www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/29/vigilante-murder-paedophile-bristol-bijan-ebrahimi

    16. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      "So he's actually filming her house, and she has two young teenage girls."

      I'm not outraged by that after you state that the camera is filming the neighbor's front door. I'm I missing something modern? Do teenage girls do something outside in front of their front door that would be shameful to have filmed. Don't get me wrong, I'm creeped out by the video doorbell stuff but it doesn't take pulling the long bow to make a point.

    17. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      >young teenage girls.

      Given my teenagers and their friends, I'm a little surprised they haven't put lipstick or vaseline on the lense...

    18. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Apathy is the problem

      The amount of up votes is really concerning. These are the people that will be running round with pitch forks with no evidence. The same people that would be shouting "She's a witch, she's a witch, drown her" then she survives so they shout louder "See, she MUST be a witch. Burn her".

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    That assumes the person who bought this device is the owner.

    I'll bet Amazon T&C have a different PoV.

    Something along the lines of "You don't own this device, you're just looking after it for Amazon while they run it to collect information"

    Data fetishists got to fetishise.

    But yes it's our data. It's their choice of system architecture that insists we send copies of it to their servers as well.

    Maybe copyright is the only way to bring these jackals to heel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But yes it's our data.

      see small print, something about how they value your privacy and your data stays yours forever, no buts, not ifs. Neverthless, while the data stays yours, no buts, no ifs, by purchasing the device, unpacking (or otherwise making it ready), powering, connecting, logging in, testing and / or using THEIR device to capture, process, compress, stream this data in order to save it on THEIR server by means of THEIR propriary technology (see futher details on page 15464674) you agree to make THEM the sole data processor with all the implications (see futher details on... ) and fuckoff.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: That assumes the person who bought this device is the owner.

      "Maybe copyright is the only way to bring these jackals to heel.""

      There's probably something in the T&Cs that assigns copyright to Amazon.

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: That assumes the person who bought this device is the owner.

      Maybe copyright is the only way to bring these jackals to heel.

      I prefer a simpler solution. All Amazon C-level execs must fit Rings to all exterior doors in all their properties, with links to the devices included in their exec bios. Devices must be installed in typical punter mode, so include full video and audio.

      It's a simple solution that could be applied to pretty much all data rapists, ie force them to publish the data they collect on us.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: That assumes the person who bought this device is the owner.

      "Maybe copyright is the only way to bring these jackals to heel."

      I don't think that the footage is covered under Copyright. There is no creativity to the content. This is the same as phone books (the old fashioned dead tree variety). They are a compilation of factual information and not a creative work. The outer cover could be covered by Copyright, but not the content. Unless, and this is where the company exacted revenge, fake entries are sprinkled throughout "creatively". It was a real case.

  3. b0llchit Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Cold turkey - like surrogates

    Every device should die in an electrons pushing through cables deficiency. The blackout should at least last 14 days. Better to last longer. The longer it lasts, the more they can stream the inevitable chaos live... oh wait :-)

    Some hopes are up when the initial shock wears off. Maybe some will actually start to talk to each other; IRL facetime. But I fear humanity cannot be saved, even by a no-electricity harsh measure.

    1. Cornishinretirement

      Re: Cold turkey - like surrogates

      A lot of people would also die in an 'electrons pushing through cables deficiency'. I think you would need to be a little more specific in your outage. Sound principle though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cold turkey - like surrogates

        > A lot of people would also die...

        And the problem of that would be?

        1. Filippo Silver badge

          Re: Cold turkey - like surrogates

          I suppose none, provided it's not you, eh?

          1. b0llchit Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Cold turkey - like surrogates

            I wouldn't know or care. When I'm dead I don't care. Actually, the "I" when dead is gone, therefore, no state information is available to the non-existent "I". That is kinda given with the being "dead" part.

            1. sabroni Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: When I'm dead I don't care. Actually, the "I" when dead is gone

              Ooh, fascinating. Someone who's been dead and knows what it's like.

              Did you decide to turn away from the light?

              Or is this all just supposition based on a mechanical interpretation of reality?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cold turkey - like surrogates

      You more or less just described the plot of a 2012 TV show called Revolution. Pretty much highlighted that technology is not the problem, it's people. Funnily enough human beings were around before electricity was discovered and its power harnessed. You'll be shocked to hear that those people had bigger problems in their life than whether or not their neighbours doorbell accidentally recorded them walking past from time to time...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully this is just people submitting their own footage, the same as 'You've Been Framed'... but this is Amazon, so all bets are off

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Alert

      As humanity is what humanity is (inhumane?), it'll be a roaring success, and as a result Amazon will then commission the Roomba version.

  5. Dave.C

    I see what you did there

    Ring-fence - used it twice.

  6. Andy Non
    Facepalm

    Someone near us

    had their Ring door-bell / camera stolen. Apparently it didn't record the theft either! Couldn't help laughing.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Someone near us

      Just curious. What do you reckon the thieves did with the gear? Surely Amazon wouldn't let someone connect a stolen camera to their service ... Surely ...

  7. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
    FAIL

    Sorry, but

    Ordinarily I'm very suspicious of blaming the victim. But this time, really? Anyone who ever saw a vampire film knows that you don't invite the monster it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sorry, but

      It gets worse... they also have pet cams for inside the house. I tried to warn a client about this stuff, but they are also in the "Trust Apple, Trust Amazon, Trust Google" land. Their response to my warnings (and El'Reg articles) was to go buy the inside the house cameras. "To keep an eye on the dogs"...

      That is the one thing Orwell got wrong with the Telescreens in 1984. It is not government watching - it is the salesman working out what to sell you next...

      1. Wade Burchette

        Re: Sorry, but

        Whenever I see a friend with Alexa, I make them turn it off. I tell them: "Suppose the police came to your house and wanted to install a microphone and camera inside. They claimed they would only watch when a crime is being committed and only listen for trigger sounds, like screaming and gunshots. Would you allow the police to do this?"

        Of course, the automatic answer is "No!"

        Then I ask: "So why are you paying a business that openly admits to listening and watching you to increase their profit to put microphones and cameras in your house?"

        1. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but

          At least one member of my own family says she'd cheerfully live in such a panopticon if it would prevent one murder. She says that while I'm still talking about commercial rather than state surveillance.

          1. steviebuk Silver badge

            Re: Sorry, but

            Get them to watch Demolition Man

        2. riparian zone

          Re: Sorry, but

          So tell that to AbilityNet - or rather loads of visually impaired and physically disabled people. I'm sure the response would be somewhat different.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry, but

          A better analogy would be "Only listen for trigger sounds, like "help, Police", but I guess that's not as scary as your version.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but

          "Whenever I see a friend with Alexa, I make them turn it off. "

          My idiot younger sister got my mom one. I'd disconnect it when I visited and finally sabotaged the stupid thing so it would never work again. My mom was frustrated that it often went wrong and gave up when it finally stopped working no matter what she tried. BTW, vinegar is also known as Acetic Acid and does horrible things to electronics. Slightly diluted and it takes a period of time for it to do its magic. I'm just sayin'.

      2. 43300 Bronze badge

        Re: Sorry, but

        "That is the one thing Orwell got wrong with the Telescreens in 1984. It is not government watching - it is the salesman working out what to sell you next..."

        You think the government aren't watching as well?

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Sorry, but

          "That is the one thing Orwell got wrong with the Telescreens in 1984. It is not government watching - it is the salesman working out what to sell you next..."

          For even more fun try "A Logic Named Joe". Take note of when it was written and how it matches with modern times.

      3. Charlie van Becelaere

        Re: Sorry, but

        "That is the one thing Orwell got wrong with the Telescreens in 1984. It is not government watching - it is the salesman working out what to sell you next..."

        Whilst working out what to tell the government to do next.

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Sorry, but

        That is the one thing Orwell got wrong with the Telescreens in 1984. It is not government watching - it is the salesman working out what to sell you next...

        Yes, as useful as Nineteen Eighty-Four1 is as a symbol and touchstone, and while it really does work quite well as a novel, it turns out the oppressive surveillance state is in the minority and often short-lived (though North Korea is giving it a go).

        The Foucauldian enjoy-your-submission capitalist state has been much more successful. Novels such as Brave New World and Fahrenheit 4512 describe more dangerous dystopias, where the majority of the populace is only to happy to participate.

        1The novel's proper title. Orwell hated it when people wrote it with digits.

        2Bradbury mentioned in interviews that he considered F 451's depiction of future entertainment – particularly the Walls – a more important feature than the book-burning.

    2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Sorry, but

      sf/invite the monster it/invite the monster in/

      What is it with my typing these days? That wasn't even the right hand. And I just had to correct a similar f..f..foul up in this one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sorry, but

        When it comes to spelling mistakes, I usually try to ignore them. After all, "Let one who has never sinned cast the first scone."

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Sorry, but Benny HIll casting the first scone...

          Now Ernie dragged him from his van and beneath the blazing sun,

          They stood there face to face, and Ted went for his bun.

          But Ernie was too quick, things didn't go the way Ted planned,

          And a strawberry-flavoured yogurt sent it spinning from his hand.

          Now Susie ran between them and tried to keep them apart,

          And Ernie, he pushed her aside and a rock cake caught him underneath his heart.

          And he looked up in pained surprise and the concrete hardened crust,

          Of a stale pork pie caught him in the eye and Ernie bit the dust.

          1. ITMA Bronze badge

            Re: Sorry, but Benny HIll casting the first scone...

            I used to have that as a 45 single when I was young! (back in the late Precambrian).

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8e1xvyTdBZI

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Sorry, but Benny HIll casting the first scone...

              Lovely!

          2. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Sorry, but Benny HIll casting the first scone...

            Poor Ernie!

    3. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: Sorry, but

      You don't invite the monster in.

      Late I know, but I couldn't find the right clip.

    4. cmdrklarg
      Coat

      Re: Sorry, but

      Yes, but the vampire rules don't say anything about not demolishing the building you're in.

  8. Bartholomew Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    I wonder ...

    I wonder which US corporation currently harvests the most metadata daily Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Apple or ????

    And I also wonder which US corporation currently owns the largest cross-referenced archive of historical metadata.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder ...

      What about scoring companies, which collects data harvested by all of the above, and then some more?

    2. HereIAmJH

      Re: I wonder ...

      Don't forget Trans Union, Experion, Equifax and Visa.

      But it's only so they can provide you with better service.

    3. hj

      Re: I wonder ...

      If you replace organization for corporation, I would say the NSA. Since they're good at what they;re doing, have the means and funds and the mandate of their government to cross connect all these databases to one all compassing one...

      1. tekHedd

        All the others are noobs

        The NSA have been collecting your data since...er...how long has there been computers? They have simply the most experience. And, of course, a huge black ops budget, the have openly and legally attached a tap directly to every major data backbone public and private, and a legal and moral (I assume they think this) imperative to spy on you.

        It's a no-contest. I've heard credible stories about the NSA that go back to the early mainframe days. "You're going to change this piece of code so it's written this other way and you'll also not tell anybody you talked to me." :P

        1. Julz

          Re: All the others are noobs

          Absolutely that, but I can't tell you otherwise...

          Oh, don't rule out our very own data hoarders, GCHQ; hording data that would be too embarrassing for our country cousins to be found with.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: All the others are noobs

          "The NSA have been collecting your data since...er...how long has there been computers?'

          J. Edgar Hoover, the famous head of the US FBI, long predates the NSA. He's well known for keeping records, likely on paper, of all sorts of prominent people. Computers have just made it so much easier to keep records on everybody and correlate all of that information automatically.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I wonder ...

      "I wonder which US corporation currently harvests the most metadata daily Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Apple or ????"

      Dig deeper. It's the companies that buy the data from those sources, amalgamate it and sell it via subscription to your employer, insurance company and government. Some of those companies are not above shopping the DarkNet for data dumps to refine the files they have on people. The sorts of PII that are sometimes hard to get and keep up to date can often come from those dumps.

  9. NightFox

    This makes things interesting in terms of GDPR-related CCTV legislation, where generally there's an appointed person recognised in law (terminology varies between countries) who's the controller of the system, in principle the person who controls the footage and who can access it. Even on a cloud-based system, for something like Ring, this would generally be the homeowner who'd installed it. However, if Amazon are able to access footage directly, by design, then this arguably makes them the system controller/data custodian, which brings with it many legal obligations, shifting them away from the homeowner. Whether Amazon would meet those obligations is another question, of course.

    Yes, there are systems that are intended for domestic use, so legislation may not be quite as applicable as it is for commercial CCTV systems, but even where it isn't, guidance by the likes of the ICO in the UK is that the spirit of the same principals apply, even if they're not likely to be actively enforced. However, there's nothing to prevent someone taking action against a homeowner; most legislation doesn't specifically exclude private/domestic systems.

    And as for dashcams...

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Whilst I agree with you on dashcams, there are so many lying scheming, deceiving toerags out there it is becoming an essential "witness".

      Someone ran into the back of me when I was stationary in a carpark and tried to claim I reversed into them. Whiplash the works.

      I supplied the clip to my insurers and the the dispute was quickly resolved in my favour as it should.

      What also should have happened is that the lying party should have had their claim nulled as they lied. I suspect that was not the case. If this happened more often an insurers enforced the "if you submit a fraudulent claim you may void your insurance", many of these dodgy claims was quietly go away.

      1. NightFox

        I'm all in favour of dashcams, but the untested legal fog surrounding them is a nightmare, which probably goes a long way to explain why car manufacturers are reluctant to offer them as OEM equipment (apart from Tesla of course, but let's face it, Elon doesn't seem to worry much about pesky laws and the like). By rights, I could approach anyone in the UK with a dashcam in their car and ask to see their documented system policy and to provide copies of all footage that included me in it, and if they failed to comply I could report them to the ICO. It would be very interesting to see what action the ICO would then take, as the legislation has kind of painted them into a corner.

        1. 43300 Bronze badge

          "By rights, I could approach anyone in the UK with a dashcam in their car and ask to see their documented system policy and to provide copies of all footage that included me in it, and if they failed to comply I could report them to the ICO. It would be very interesting to see what action the ICO would then take, as the legislation has kind of painted them into a corner."

          Especially if it was a company-owned car, as then there would be none of the vagueness around the ICO not taking much notice of things operated domestically.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "It would be very interesting to see what action the ICO would then take, as the legislation has kind of painted them into a corner."

          It will be under investigation usually pending assignment to some officer when one has the time to take it on. How many centuries are you prepared to wait? In the mean time, you'd have a colored piece of tape added to your folder jacket as an agitator.

      2. tekHedd

        "Essential witness"

        I've been in a handful of traffic accidents over the decades. In each case where it was *not* my fault, 100% of the cases, the other driver lied about what happened. I run a dashcam now.

        Difference here is, it's my dashcam, video goes on a memory card, and is controlled by /me/.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Essential witness"

          I have a dashcam too. My wife thinks it's funny to say things like "You really must get the brakes fixed on this car!" or "Are you sure you're OK to drive? You've had a lot to drink!".

          Because then there's no way I can send that bit of footage to the insurance company.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: "Essential witness"

            "I have a dashcam too. My wife thinks it's funny to say things like "You really must get the brakes fixed on this car!" or "Are you sure you're OK to drive? You've had a lot to drink!"."

            Having audio isn't likely to improve your case so it's best not to record it. It may also be inadmissible if you get into an argument with the other driver(s) from a crash.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "However, if Amazon are able to access footage directly, by design, then this arguably makes them the system controller/data custodian, "

      Since Amazon isn't a party to the conversation being recorded, there aren't too many jurisdictions where the audio recording supplied by them could be used in evidence. The requirements in the US vary as to whether only one party needs to know a recording is being made or all parties. In no instance I have seen is it legal, without a warrant, for a third party to record a conversation. Imagery captured in public isn't an issue.

  10. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Holmes

    only be used in ways and purposes determined by its owner.

    But who is the owner? We've seen too many cases in recent times - particularly in the software and streaming arena - where you thought you bought something, but mysteriously it stops working at some later date when the manufacturer decides it's not raking in enough profit.

  11. MJI Silver badge

    Just thought

    Why is this not on Prime?

  12. Jan K. Bronze badge

    All of this points to an immediate need for strong legal protections to ring-fence any footage from any sensor anywhere...

    In the States?

    Good luck with that... not very impressed so far, sorry.

  13. Kane Silver badge
    Coat

    ...very soon we may be continuously performing for some power that we cannot see...

    Sounds like the plot line to Armageddon: The Musical.

    Mine's the one with the Big Flywheel in the pocket.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: ...very soon we may be continuously performing for some power that we cannot see...

      I have no desire to see Raggot the rocket gerbil shot through the air by a pocket of exploding intestinal gas to break the felching partners nose.

      http://www.scaine.net/site/2005/03/armageddon/

      Ohhh! Hang on!

    2. Ben Bonsall

      Re: ...very soon we may be continuously performing for some power that we cannot see...

      Excellent. Have an interositor to modulate the transperambulation of the pseudo-cosmic anti matter in the other pocket.

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: ...very soon we may be continuously performing for some power that we cannot see...

        "Excellent. Have an interositor to modulate the transperambulation of the pseudo-cosmic anti matter in the other pocket."

        I would love to but I have a final rooftop showdown to attend for my climactic confrontation with the villain in order to send them plunging to their oblivion in the final chapter.

        I wouldn't want to lose it.

        Plus I don't think I have the right paperwork...

    3. Hugo Rune
      Coat

      Re: ...very soon we may be continuously performing for some power that we cannot see...

      Thank you very much.. Chief

      Mine's the one with The Sprout in the pocket.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The series will feature clips such as neighbors saving neighbors,

    I read: neighbors shaving neighbors :(

    alexa, what's wrong with me?!

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: The series will feature clips such as neighbors saving neighbors,

      Sure - How long a list would you like?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All of this points to an immediate need for strong legal protections

    sorry, alexa has bolted long time ago and the monkey at the door is looking dreamily on, scratching their bum in confusion? Like: oh my, I didn't think THIS would happen?! Remember how we had those fruitless debates on this forum (and hundreds of others, around this little planet), only what, 15 years ago? - on the fact that we can't, absolutely CAN. NOT. allow drones to develop into airborne weapons systems and SOMETHING. MUST. BE. DONE. Well, something's been done, that's for sure.

  16. Howard Sway Silver badge

    We've turned Nineteen Eighty-Four's Room 101 into The Benny Hill Show!

    Steady on there, I doubt it'll feature speeded up scantily clad security officers chasing thought criminals round a cell. Although that would be more watchable than seeing some fool proposing marriage in front of their doorbell so they can get on the telly.

    This can safely be ignored if it's just another way for people to film rubbish to send in to a dumb tv show. However if it's Amazon contacting you to ask if it can broadcast something they saw, start worrying.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: We've turned Nineteen Eighty-Four's Room 101 into The Benny Hill Show!

      You missed what Amazon probably thinks: make surveillance funny so people are deceived and not think about the real risks, and keep on believing having a surveillance camera is cool.

      After all not much different from what happens in 1984 where the proles are keep under control using sport and porn, so they are brainwashed into not thinking about anything else.

      Orwell back then could not think why someone would install a telescreen without being forced to, but silly TV shows were yet to come...

      1. Woodnag

        There's also the elephant in the room that hasn't been discussed...

        How do Ring know which are the fun videos to broadcast after getting permission?

        They trawl through ALL OF THEM, initially automated, then people look at the shortlisted ones to finalise selections, all without explicit permission.

        Exactly.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: We've turned Nineteen Eighty-Four's Room 101 into The Benny Hill Show!

        "Orwell back then could not think why someone would install a telescreen without being forced to, but silly TV shows were yet to come..."

        I'm sure he could and did. He took the idea from the proliferation of radio and later television, and people bought those on their own. The book doesn't indicate that people were forced to install telescreens at first, and one character did suggest that at one time the equipment was purchased. I don't think the mechanics of how people came to have the equipment were particularly important to him, as how the party chose to employ the equipment was his major focus.

  17. JWLong

    Which side of the Pond

    In neither document (the Constitution of the United States, or the Bill of Right's) is the word " Privacy" mentioned.

    But, I can do whatever I want to fuddel fuck their technology any way I can, and I do!

    I recently purchased a new Hp laptop. The first thing I did was to open it up and physically disconnect the microphone and the camera. I have plugin versions I can use If nèeded.

    I also have my own neutered version of Win10 running Win7 in a virtual machine behind a PiHole firewall/router and soon to be cable modem of my own choice as soon as I figure out what is needed to neutered Comcast.

    And as far as Microblobshit, Googblobbler, Amerizonstinkfest, and the rest of the well slurping cretons are concerned, I poison the well as much as possible because there's nothing like "Bad Data" being forced up their bum that makes me smile so much.

    Fuck'em All......

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Which side of the Pond

      "In neither document (the Constitution of the United States, or the Bill of Right's) is the word " Privacy" mentioned."

      Read them again and search for the concept, not the word "privacy". It's there, you just missed it.

  18. Tron

    Smile, you're on candid camera.

    Outsourcing your privacy to a third party is at best unwise.

    Using a star topology service, tech companies will hold data on you that could stand as evidence of a crime. They cannot hide such evidence from Inspector Knacker if served with a warrant, just as you cannot refuse to let the old bill in to search your property, on privacy grounds, if they have a warrant.

    If you want privacy, only install distributed systems. Then tech companies have no data on you that they can be forced to share. But of course, your neighbours might.

  19. DubyaG

    Got an Echo

    A few years ago, my wife received an Amazon Echo as a Christmas gift at an office party.

    I told her we would get rid of it and returned it to Amazon for credit.

    She agreed with me that we should have as few spy gadgets as possible in the house. Basically, our cell phones are it along with our home compute stuff.

    1. Julz

      Re: Got an Echo

      So how many spy devices are too many?

  20. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Benny Hill

    That's for later when Amazon shares Roomba vids with accelerated playback.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge

      Re: Benny Hill

      Roomba vids

      Big on CaTV I hear

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Refreshing

    I didn't expect to see an article like this in the register. Very refreshing and well done.

    Britain certainly did move a very long distance away from the unity and solidarity down during the war. Nowadays it's all about me, me, me and myself, everyone else be damned.

    Aside from that, the problem with not having experienced totalitarianism is that you don't know what it looks like when it stares you in the face.

  22. R.O.

    Finders Keeper, Losers Weepers

    Again, it comes down to who owns the data: personal, private or not.

    Regardless of the law the practical operational worldwide principle is, once the data, no matter what it is, or what the corporation/government says, gets into their servers they may and do treat it as their own property. They may say they are concerned about privacy and security, but that just bullshit. They got it, they own it, too bad for you.

    Occasionally, a standard cliche is appropriate. This is one of those times: There oughta' be a law against it!

    It being virtually every government and corporation in the world with a computer collecting, keeping and doing with whatever they please with our data.

    It's not right and never will be.

  23. Alistair Dabbs

    IoT privacy

    It certainly makes you want to double-check the data-sharing T&Cs on your Smart Toilet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IoT privacy

      > It certainly makes you want to double-check the data-sharing T&Cs on your Smart Toilet.

      I am the sad one who does, then emails for clarification and if not satisfied, reports to the relevant data protection authority and returns the product.

      Incidentally, I recommend a manufacturer that goes by the name "Shelley" (or something like that). They are a small Bulgarian company who do various IoT bits based on the ESP32 which can work in cloud (theirs or yours) or cloudless mode and have a clear and fair privacy policy.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: IoT privacy

      I sincerely hope that's not the Ring the article was referring to.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: IoT privacy

      "It certainly makes you want to double-check the data-sharing T&Cs on your Smart Toilet."

      I am really happy with the progression from an outdoor privy or chamber pot to the modern day toilet (crapper) that's connected to a sanitary system. Is it the curse of the old to not see how a "smart toilet" is even better? I take the cat's attitude about once it's covered up (or flushed), it's no longer my problem and just get on with life. Further analysis doesn't leave me more fulfilled.

    4. Adam JC
      Devil

      Re: IoT privacy

      I've read it, looks like a load of shit to me

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get any pics of these teenage girls?

    Asking for a friend.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge

      Re: Get any pics of these teenage girls?

      OK I admit it, I laughed.

  25. 105kayem

    Wildlife Camera

    I purchased a “ Blink “ doorbell. It’s battery powered and records clips to a remote memory stick via WiFi.

    An excellent piece of kit when used as a wildlife camera and mounted in my Hedgehog feeding station in the garden.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wildlife Camera

      But have the hedgehogs and other wildlife given permission?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wildlife Camera

      Do you have a link?

      (As in, a URL, not as in being the director's nephew)

    3. algol60forever

      Re: Wildlife Camera

      It seems that Amazon acquired Blink in 2017...oops.

  26. jmch Silver badge

    Legal AND technical limits

    "an immediate need for strong legal protections to ring-fence any footage from any sensor anywhere,"

    By all means there need to be legal protections. But there should also be some consumer awareness to put technical limitations on the products, with verified source code

  27. b1k3rdude

    Ring camera useage illeagal depending on installation -

    Had the same B$ situation in my block, neighbour below me had a front facing RING camera that was not only recoding 2x other neighbours front doors but also the communal stairwell. All of which are illeagal in the UK. Attempts tpo get it removed or direction changed fell on deaf ears. In the end something only got done when when walking past it one day I gave the camera a visual and audiable f*** you.

    The owner then had the cheek to complain, at which point it was pointed out that theinstalation and subsequent filming was completely illeagal and they didn't have a leg to stand on and if they didnt remove it the next stage was court. Said neighbour moved out a month later, camera gone, problem solved. And it set a presendent so others dont try the same sh*t.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ring camera useage illeagal depending on installation -

      > I gave the camera a visual and audiable f*** you.

      There is no need to be rude when the same message may be conveyed by judicious application of sandpaper on the camera lens.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Ring camera useage illeagal depending on installation -

        "the same message may be conveyed by judicious application of sandpaper on the camera lens."

        Likely that the camera would catch you out for doing that and regardless of the legality of the camera being there, you'd be guilty of destroying private property and have to pay for it. A smearing of petroleum jelly or lip balm would be annoying and if they used a strong solvent to get it off, they might damage the lens permanently themselves.

  28. Big_Boomer
    Big Brother

    Big Brother is here and you are paying for it.

    Cameras everywhere, a Smart-speaker in every room, a Smartphone in every hand. We are paying these companies & governments to spy on us at will. Just the other day a friend told me he would never have a Smart-speaker in his house as he values his privacy. I then asked him about his Smartphone and he replied that it wasn't always listening, so I shouted "Ok Google" and his phone woke up and waited for input. He hadn't even considered that his phone was a surveillance device. Not only are you paying for the surveillance devices but you are also paying for the bandwidth the devices use to communicate said surveillance. If you are OK with that, then good for you. Personally I am not OK with it as without exception all surveillance ever setup has been abused and misused and I have no desire to live in a totalitarian surveillance state.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Big Brother is here and you are paying for it.

      "OK Google" and Alexa listen locally for their trigger phrase. Until that point, no audio is sent over the internet.

      This is easily verifiable. They also don't have a method of storing all this data locally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Big Brother is here and you are paying for it.

        > Until that point, no audio is sent over the internet.

        I guess you have failed to consider why "software" is called thus?

        Likewise, I guess you have failed to read the T&Cs of those products?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Big Brother is here and you are paying for it.

          Yep, I can't read.

  29. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Panopticon

    Bentham's Panopticon: where the prisoners can't see one another, but all can be seen by the ever-watchful guard

    This doesn't change the force of the argument, but this statement is a misinterpretation of Bentham. The point of the Panopticon is not that the guards are eternally and constantly vigilant; the point is that they don't have to be. Because the prisoners can't tell when they're being watched, they have to assume there's some reasonable probability at any given time they're being watched. So they police their own behavior in case they are being watched, and thus internalize the guarding function.

  30. johnmayo

    Oh no!

    What next - buying a robot hoover company so that they can check out your interior too?

    Oh, wait.....

  31. Duvelhedz
    WTF?

    Amazon in all its forms is a scourge on humanity.

    Shopping - Destroy local businesses and send money out of the economy. (Kill those businesses and put people on the dole)

    Media - Ensure creators get bugger all for their work. (put them on the dole)

    Software/AWS - create a single point of failure by relying on one provider. (Single point of failure, just like this https://www.theregister.com/2022/08/25/lastpass_security/ "

    Home Security (Or what they pretend it is) - Gross invasion of privacy as per article above.

    Convenience has a cost.

    I saw this crap 10 years ago. Ae people stupid or what?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "I saw this crap 10 years ago. Ae people stupid or what?"

      Sorta. Concepts such as critical thinking, technology, science, etc are not being taught in schools. People are being shown the exciting superficial uses for something and don't think about it any further than that top level. This is why so many people have their entire lives on their phone when it's a very insecure device to store not just financial data, but the access to their money/credit. They don't stop to ask themselves why they need to have their retirement account information on their phone for immediate retrieval. They been sold on how convenient it is if they want to make changes at the spur of the moment to "take advantage of quickly moving targets of opportunity".

      I've seen this sort of thing going back well more than 10 years. It's just become far more insidious and varied given the power of the internet and the devices we take for granted. People are well trained to sacrifice privacy and security for convenience. Just look at all of the gadgets on EV's. I see most of them as points of expensive failure when the warranty has run out. I don't find a flush mounted door handle as such an improvement that when it fails some years down the road and I have to crawl through from the other side of the car while I wait to get repairs or a replacement to want them. The aerodynamic difference is so slight that it makes little improvement, but it's really cool, right? Right up to the point where it's frozen shut one winter's morning and you have to put the kettle on to be able to unfreeze it. Like you have the time to spend when you may already wind up being late for work due to the state of the roads.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > A[r]e people stupid or what?

      Yes.

  32. TimMaher Silver badge
    Coat

    Amazon’s Ring.

    Precioussssss!

    Now, stick your finger in it.

    Mine’s the one with some Tolkien in the pocket.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Amazon’s Ring.

      "Precioussssss!

      Now, stick your finger in it."

      And the more you wear it, the more it takes you over and makes you one of them.

  33. Teejay

    When I first heard this, I really thought it was a joke. Then I realised it wasn't.

  34. Giles C Silver badge

    Electricity cost

    According to an article in the Sunday times yesterday they reckon after the uk energy price cap increase takes effect in October it will cost £44 per year to run one of these doorbells.

    Now if that wasn’t an incentive to not have one……

  35. Adam JC

    'Ringfence'

    Problem is, by 'ringfencing' the Ring doorbell, you're left with a £200 paperweight which isn't able to fulfill all the promised magical things it was intended for.

    Amazon have you over a barrel here, even if they forced everyone tomorrow to re-sign the EULA/T's and C's to explicitly state they reserve the right to share your footage with whomever their heart desires, I can almost guarantee at least 50% of their customer base would probably (begrudgingly) smash the 'Accept' button so as not to turn their expensive doorbell into a stupid one. As far as I know, there's no way to hack these things to use a third-party service, thus Amazon's cloud-based wizardry is a complete necessity for it to actually function.

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