Over the past few days there’s been a number of news reports and propaganda pieces that normalize home and neighborhood surveillance using smart home doorbells like Amazon’s Ring Camera during Halloween. This isn’t new – Ring even wrote a blog post detailing last year’s ‘Halloween highlights’ in 2018. On a good day, a Ring camera on your street means that it’s continually surveilled not just by your neighbors, but by the third-most valuable company in the world. On Halloween, it means that hundreds of thousands of kids are being recorded on a distributed corporate surveillance system without their (or their parents’) consent.
But the recent viral video of a boy dumping his hard-earned candy into an empty not-at-home bowl has people thinking pretty critically about Ring cameras and where they are in neighborhoods. As part of an ongoing research project about doorbell surveillance cameras, I’ve collected all the alerts posted to the Ring neighbors app on Halloween for the past couple of years, and mapped them. In the interest of, well, not publicizing people’s faces without their consent, the links to the videos have been scrubbed, but the title and description are still visible.