Surveillance Capitalism

Amazon’s latest drone a harbinger of total surveillance

Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon, personally owns the Washington Post, but its technology writer is quite vocal with criticisms and questions of Amazon’s latest “security” offerings and their dystopian potentials.


The new Amazon devices most likely to raise eyebrows use cameras, not just microphones. That starts with the $250 Always Home Cam, part of its Ring brand of connected doorbells and security systems. This camera is an autonomous drone that flies inside your house so you can check in from afar. “We wanted to create one camera that could give users the flexibility of every viewpoint they want around the home,” Ring founder Jamie Siminoff said in a blog post.

Before you ask: No the drone doesn’t contain lasers for entertaining the cats — they’re likely to be terrified, anyway. Amazon says the Always Home Cam does have obstacle-avoidance technology so it doesn’t run into anything unexpected.

Siminoff said the idea was you could use your phone to remotely see if you left a window open, or the stove on, which is convenient. But the scary part is we know those aren’t the only ways it could be used. Amazon said the drone always hums at a “certain volume” so people are aware it is running, and can’t be manually controlled — it only flies along a preset path.

But as we’ve learned from Ring’s other products, what’s to stop it from spying on family members or neighbors, becoming a tool for police — or being used to watch you? Once again, Ring’s products raise more social questions than the company seems to want to address. Ring said Siminoff was not available for an interview.

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