Would You like Cheese to Go with Your Whine?

The FBI has issued a warning that doorbell cams may tip off residents that the police are planning a raid on their home.

Typical cops. More surveillance, until it touches on them:

The rise of the internet-connected home security camera has generally been a boon to police, as owners of these devices can (and frequently do) share footage with cops at the touch of a button. But according to a leaked FBI bulletin, law enforcement has discovered an ironic downside to ubiquitous privatized surveillance: The cameras are alerting residents when police show up to conduct searches.

A November 2019 “technical analysis bulletin” from the FBI provides an overview of “opportunities and challenges” for police from networked security systems like Amazon’s Ring and other “internet of things,” or IoT, devices. Marked unclassified but “law enforcement sensitive” and for official use only, the document was included as part of the BlueLeaks cache of material hacked from the websites of fusion centers and other law enforcement entities.

The “opportunities” described are largely what you’d expect: Sensor-packed smart devices create vast volumes of data that can be combed through by curious investigators, particularly “valuable data regarding device owners’ movements in real-time and on a historic basis, which can be used to, among other things, confirm or contradict subject alibis or statements.”

The downside for police, who have rushed to embrace Ring usage nationwide as the Amazon subsidiary aggressively marketed itself to and sealed partnerships with local departments, is that networked cameras record cops just as easily as the rest of us. Ring’s cameras are so popular in part because of how the company markets their ability to detect motion at your doorstep, providing convenient phone alerts of “suspicious activity,” however you might define it, even when you’re out of the house. But sometimes the police are the unannounced, unwanted visitor: “Subjects likely use IoT devices to hinder LE [law enforcement] investigations and possibly monitor LE activity,” the bulletin states. “If used during the execution of a search, potential subjects could learn of LE’s presence nearby, and LE personnel could have their images captured, thereby presenting a risk to their present and future safety.”

The document describes a 2017 incident in which FBI agents approached a New Orleans home to serve a search warrant and were caught on video. “Through the Wi-Fi doorbell system, the subject of the warrant remotely viewed the activity at his residence from another location and contacted his neighbor and landlord regarding the FBI’s presence there,” it states.

Sauce for the Gander.

Leave a Reply