Ring: The New Amazon Subsidiary and the Social, Privacy, and Security Issues It Generates

Ring: The New Amazon Subsidiary and the Social, Privacy, and Security Issues It Generates

  • Case
  • Teaching Notes
Abstract

This case discusses racial discrimination, security breaches, and privacy issues faced by Ring Inc. (hereafter Ring), a home safety device company that was acquired by Amazon in 2018. Ring’s devices promised increased safety and reduced theft. Integration of Ring devices with the Neighbors app allowed users to view neighborhood crime in real time, post videos of suspicious activity, and share information and video footage with people. Critics claimed that Ring devices, along with the Neighbors app, resulted in increasing instances of racial profiling of people of color. Critics and media also showed discontent with Amazon’s cooperation with police departments in certain U.S. cities for promotion of Ring devices. To further expand the scope of services, Amazon was contemplating introducing facial recognition technology into Ring devices. However, critics were voicing concerns against the usage of such technology. Critics were also dissatisfied with the breach of privacy of Ring users as well as other security challenges, such as the access hackers may obtain to Ring users’ passwords. These issues presented Jamie Siminoff, founder and CEO of Ring, with several challenges. How should Siminoff manage challenges posed by the use of Ring? How should he manage the Neighbors app, which added to surveillance, but resulted in increasing instances of racial discrimination? Is Siminoff’s product a real fit with Amazon’s business? How can he encourage users to use the facial recognition technology in Ring?

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