Hosted by Wanda Sykesthe series of unscripted surveillance cameras uses AmazonRing’s home security cameras for a series of clips, produced by “Live PD” producers Big Fish Entertainment and Ring. The series will debut on September 26 and will feature viral videos shared by people from their video doorbells and smart home cameras. Clips promoted include neighbors helping neighbors, marriage proposals, military reunions and moments with animals.
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Ring founder and inventor Jamie Siminoff has previously appeared on “Shark Tank” as a contestant and later as a guest shark.
However, now more than 40 racial justice, privacy and labor rights organizations are calling out Poznick and MGM Television President Marc Burnett to cancel the series. According to the official letter, the “Cancel Ring Nation” campaign is “sounding alarm bells over the dangerous precedent that MGM is setting by normalizing and promoting Amazon’s harmful network of surveillance cameras.”
The non-profit organization Fight for the Future, Media Justice, Alternate ROOTS, Athena, Center for Race and Digital Justice, For Us Not Amazon, The Surveillance, Tech & Immigration Policing Project at the Immigrant Defense Project and WITNESS are among the signatories of the open letter.
“The Ring surveillance network used to collect clips for Ring Nation does so at the expense of blacks and browns. Ring has a long history of using race-coded dog whistles and weaponizing the breed to promote their products,” the letter states. “And the accompanying Neighbors app gamifies the profiling and criminalization of black and brown individuals. Footage from Ring cameras was used to track and monitor protesters who took to the streets, exercising their First Amendment rights, following the murder of George Floyd. These are not isolated incidents. Racial profiling and racist policing are core parts of Ring’s fear-mongering business model.
The letter also warns of potential implications for abortion seekers and providers in the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “In the wake of Roe’s reversal, footage from a Ring camera could be used to pursue an aborted patient going out of state for health care – either filming the clinic, capturing him leaving an Airbnb , or by proving that he was not home for a few days,” the letter continued.
The organizations conclude the petition by writing, “If aired, this program jeopardizes the rights and lives of viewers and their families. To ignore Ring’s wider societal impact and broadcast “Ring Nation” would be unwise. We call [MGM] to cancel “Ring Nation”.
Evan Greer, director of Fight for the Future, said: “Ring cameras and the Neighbors app are the backbone of a massive private surveillance operation. It’s crazy enough that they are even considered legal devices, and even crazier that anyone is making a TV show from the recorded footage. The fact that MGM studio executives thought something so dangerous could be fun family entertainment is mind-boggling.
Myaisha Hayes, Chief Strategy Officer of the Media Justice Campaign, said, “We can’t ignore the facts about ‘Ring Nation’: it’s an Amazon-owned studio producing a comedy show about the proceeds of Amazon’s Dangerous Oversight.
Athena Coalition director Ryan Gerety called the series “an insidious whitewashing marketing scheme aimed not only at popularizing Amazon’s mass surveillance Ring cameras, but also at obscuring the real damage that Ring cameras inflict on black and brown communities”.
Read the full letter here.
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