Wacky Indoor Amazon Drone Takes On Privacy Skeptics
It could be the wackiest product yet from Amazon — a tiny indoor drone which buzzes around people’s homes as a security sentry.
The introduction of the Ring Always Home Cam planned for 2021 has opened up fresh debate on the potential for intrusive surveillance and privacy infringement.
Amazon says the tiny drone is “built with privacy in mind” and operates at the direction of its customers. Nestled in a charging dock, the drone can be deployed remotely and send up to five minutes of video to the user.
But some activists express concerns about the device — part of a family of Ring-branded home security technology which has been scrutinized over its links to law enforcement.
John Verdi, vice president of policy at the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington think tank, said the deployment may contribute to a “normalization of surveillance” in everyday life as more consumers install devices that listen and see inside the home.
“When cameras and microphones and other sensors are deployed in private spaces like living rooms and bedrooms, that leads to an acceptance of everyday surveillance,” Verdi said.
Nonetheless, Verdi noted that “Amazon has put some thought into privacy protections for this product both in the hardware and in the software policies.”
University of Washington law professor and privacy researcher Ryan Calo noted that even the perception of being watched can make people change behavior.
With any form of electronic monitoring, “you feel like there is a social agent in your midst,” Calo said.
“A camera like this can make people feel observed and threatens one of the few remaining opportunities for