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Amazon engineer calls for Ring to be “shut down immediately and not brought back”

An Amazon software engineer has spoken out against home security acquisition Ring amidst ongoing controversies around tracking and mishandled data.

“The deployment of connected home security cameras that allow footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society”, wrote software development engineer Max Eliaser in a post on Medium.

“The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation and there is no balance that can be struck. Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back”.

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The statement was part of a collection of comments from Amazon employees titled ‘Amazon Employees Share Our Views on Company Business’.

The post – which includes the thoughts of 363 Amazon employees – was shared on Sunday.

Though hundreds shared their opinions on the tech giant’s business practices, Eliaser’s was the only one to directly address the recent controversies surrounding Ring.

It seems Ring is constantly in the news these days. Reports of hacked cameras, tracked data and leaked passwords have made headlines over the past year, with much of the controversy falling at the feet of the company’s Neighbors app, which turns a local network of cameras into what is essentially a virtual neighbourhood watch.

The issue here is that there’s no way for nearby homeowners to opt out, leaving neighbours grappling with the same privacy issues and subject to the same vulnerabilities as the Ring owners themselves if the footage were to fall into the wrong hands.

While Eliaser was the only employee to speak out about Ring, this doesn’t mean the other 300 plus employees were any less scathing.

The majority addressed Amazon’s stance on climate change – the company aims to be net zero carbon by 2040 but continues to market its products to the oil and gas industries.

The post itself was compiled by a group called ‘Amazon Employees for Climate Justice’, in response to Amazon reportedly threatening to oust a number of employees for speaking publicly about its environmental stance.

Discussing these issues out in the open is considered a violation of Amazon’s newly updated external communications policy.

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“Allowing a corporation to silence us on its contribution to the climate crisis is a clear overreach of comms policy, and effectively demands we give up our basic humanity and integrity in order to be employees”, the group wrote in a mass email to Amazon employees on January 20.

“And, it’s not just about climate: it’s also about our ability to speak up on other issues like racism and sexism in tech, treatment of warehouse workers, donations to anti-LGBTQ politicians, and complicity with ICE”.

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