Website Calls For Investigation Of Ring, Gets Blocked By Facebook

Photo: Jessica Hill / AP

A leading digital rights organisation reported on Tuesday that Facebook was actively blocking users from sharing a link to a web page critical of Amazon, describing its surveillance products, such as Ring doorbell cameras, as a threat to “privacy, civil liberties, and security.”

Gizmodo independently confirmed that Facebook has blocked the URL, investigateamazon.com. At the time of writing, Facebook users who attempt to share the link are denied and told the content “goes against” Facebook’s “Community Standards.”

The web page, created by the digital rights group Fight for the Future, contains links to several news reports about Amazon’s home surveillance company Ring and its close partnerships with more than 600 police agencies across the U.S.

“Amazon’s ever-expanding surveillance empire threatens our privacy and civil liberties, especially in brown and black communities already vulnerable to racial profiling and heightened surveillance,” it says.

The page asks users to sign a letter directed at members of Congress urging them to host public hearings with Amazon Ring CEO Jamie Sminoff to answer questions about what the group calls a nationwide surveillance network that threatens Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.

Screenshot of Facebook’s error message. (Screenshot: Gizmodo)

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fight for the Future’s deputy director, Evan Greer, sought to link the block on her page to an aversion that, she said, Facebook holds against “giant tech monopolies facing congressional scrutiny”.

“Whether this was intentional censorship, some technical glitch, or just a mistake made by an overworked human or robot, the end result is the same,” she said, “the campaign page that we made to give people a voice in their democracy is being blocked by a Silicon Valley giant.”

Added Greer: “This underscores the fundamental danger of having a tiny handful of companies with so much power. This is why we need lawmakers to investigate and take meaningful action to rein in Big Tech companies like Facebook and Amazon.”

The Intercept had reported earlier on Tuesday that Ring once crafted plans to use facial recognition software to create “watch lists” of “suspicious” individuals captured by its home security cameras, according to internal records.

Ring has already fallen under the scrutiny of congressional lawmakers. Five Democratic U.S. senators wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last week airing concerns regarding a now-patched security vulnerabilities and the sharing of footage with Ring’s research and development teams overseas.

“If hackers or foreign actors were to gain access to this data, it would not only threaten the privacy and safety of the impacted Americans; it could also threaten U.S. national security,” the letter read.

This is a developing story.

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