January 4, 2020

"Every time there is more surveillance and more captured of the lived experience, that will be helpful for police investigators. The consequences are an erosion of privacy..."

"... and security at our homes and in our private moments. The trade-off is one that is hard, but also one I’m not sure citizens have fully understood when they decided to buy a little extra security for their home.”

Said lawprof Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, quoted in "Man Captured on Doorbell Camera Footage Confessing to Murder/'I killed Jennifer,' the man said before his arrest, according to the authorities. The episode is one of several recent examples of doorbell cameras yielding footage that becomes useful to the local authorities" (NYT).

What are the invasions of privacy accomplished by doorbell cameras? People are outdoors and in public. Quite aside from privacy, how is there an "erosion of... security"? Maybe the professor didn't mean to say that, but I guess the man who said "I killed Jennifer" lost whatever security he may have had in escaping undiscovered.

44 comments:

Fernandistein said...

lived experience

As opposed to an undead experience?

Is that phrase some sort of "progressive" dog whistle?

"I killed Jennifer"

If it was the Jennifer I knew, I'd like to buy that man a beer.

Kevin said...

Things are so good in America we’re left worrying about our doorbells.

0_0 said...

It's a concern because local cops (and who else?) can watch your comings and goings.

Kevin said...

Has anyone noticed all media has turned into a woman’s magazine?

Is your doorbell threatening your privacy?
What REAL Democrats must do about Trump’s drone strike.
Stressed at work? Bring a plant!
Mike Bloomberg’s perfect subway trip.
Are you in a cult? Twelve signs you might be.

rehajm said...

Relax professor. Nobody’s coming to take your weed anymore.

Rob said...

When I stabbed a woman to death, I was smart enough not to confess on camera. But perhaps I’ve said too much.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

In other countries the government foots the bill in order to install equipment to surveil its citizens. Here in the US we buy and install the equipment ourselves.

Its true that you don't have the expectation of privacy on a public street that you have in your own home, but in the past you didn't expect your every movement to be recorded and available for perusal by the authorities either.

We are well past the panopticon. Assume you are being watched at all times and act accordingly. Because you are.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZfQymnABxQ

William said...

The crime rates continue to fall. It's possible that all these surveillance cameras tend to inhibit criminals.....I sometimes scratch my ass if I think no one's around. Perhaps surveillance cameras have captured this private moment, but I'm willing to take that risk. There are far more pluses than minuses with surveillance cameras.

Michael K said...

Solution=Don't buy one !

Leland said...

I suspect the arresting cops didn't think to check the doorbell video for a chance confession. They could have been looking at the video to determine when someone might have entering or leaving the home to kill Jennifer, and indeed they found video of a person leaving the home just after killing Jennifer.

Alas, as Michael K notes about our free market society; a simple solution isn't to buy such a system. It didn't do much to protect Jennifer, but it did help identify her killer.

MountainMan said...

Since we are gone about half the time from our TN home and there has been an increase in crime lately in our neighborhood I put Ring doorbells on both our front and back doors. We love them as they provide an unobstructed view to both entries of our house. We can see not only the area around the door but most of our driveway and mailbox out front and our patio and backyard from the back. While gone during Thanksgiving, when our mail was supposedly being held, we noticed the mailman on consecutive days delivering the mail. Turns out we had a sub and he didn’t know to hold. We were able to send someone to pick it up. A few days later, about 11:30 at night, we got a nice video of a big back bear walking around our patio.

Automatic_Wing said...

I suspect the arresting cops didn't think to check the doorbell video for a chance confession. They could have been looking at the video to determine when someone might have entering or leaving the home to kill Jennifer, and indeed they found video of a person leaving the home just after killing Jennifer.

According to the article, the cops already had an eyewitness who saw the perp with a bloody butcher knife saying "I killed Jennifer". The video footage was used to corroborate the eyewitness testimony.

stlcdr said...

At some point last year, the Google servers, which connected peoples phones, their doorbell and front door locks, went down and people were unable to get into their houses.

We all assume this technology has advantages that far outweigh any disadvantages. But that is only when it is used for its intended purpose. Who is listening/watching? As we have seen, it only takes a few snippets of audio or video - with or without context - to ruin someone’s life.

Mr. Forward said...

I told somebody they were dumb as a doorknob and now I can’t get back in the house.

stlcdr said...

Added: did he kill Jennifer? People can say they did any number of things, but it doesn’t make it true. Maybe he was going to pick her up, but couldn’t and was delayed. And subsequently someone killed her. By his action - or rather, inaction - the belief may be that ‘I killed jennifer’ figuratively, not literally.

I haven’t read the full story, so am making this story up, but that is literally (!) the point.

Fernandistein said...

[servers] went down and people were unable to get into their houses.

If you don't hate "The X-Files" very much, watch episode "Rm9sbG93ZXJz".

Scott Patton said...

I shot the clerk.

Scott Patton said...

Nest doorbell automatically locks the front door when it sees a face it doesn't recognize.
New People Seen

n.n said...

They thought that Bob would be a problem. Alexa, Google, get a room.

TheThinMan said...

If the doorbell is for a private house, you’re not in public, you’ve walked onto private property before you came up to the doorbell.

mtrobertslaw said...

The professor seems to be upset that the killer confessed in private when he did not know his confession was being recorded. Apparently it would be better for all concerned if his confession was never heard by anybody.

Robert Cook said...

There is similar tech inside people's homes that capture video and audio of what the residents do and say. Often, homeowners are unconscious they are being surveilled by the devices they have installed, or, at least, that the audio and video records being made of their private lives are accessible to outsiders. And, don't forget, the federal intelligence agencies continue their comprehensive surveillance of all our electronic communications. We are living in a global panopticon.

Char Char Binks said...

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little Ring doorbell camera, deserve to be murdered by Negroes. — B. Franklin

SteveM said...

I was looking at a Ring doorbell camera at Home Depot, and the salesman told me that they’re frequently stolen off the purchasers’ front door. I hadn’t heard that before!

Leland said...

According to the article, the cops already had an eyewitness who saw the perp with a bloody butcher knife saying "I killed Jennifer". The video footage was used to corroborate the eyewitness testimony.

That's sort of my point. They had another witness, the family member that the perp was speaking. The video footage was just supportive. IOW, there wasn't a violation of the perps private moment. It was never private.

I wrote my previous comment thinking of the movie Jack Reacher, and the plot device of the parking meter and the quarter.

rehajm said...

We have a ring doorbell and a quartet of nest cams. They catch the Amazon guy and the antics of the wildlife.

My builder and his electrician wanted me to install whole house automation. Our clients hate the systems. A thunderstorm goes through, trips the arc fault circuit breakers and the system shuts down. Power comes back but the system won’t reboot so you can’t open doors or turn on lights...for your house full of people at Christmas. The AV company is closed for the holidays and the owner is in Nevis (which you paid for)...

‘It’s what customers of a house like this expect’ says the electrician to me. ‘I’m the customer, asshole’. Turns out they didn’t know how to install toggle switches. Not old enough to remember. Sigh...

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

their doorbell and front door locks, went down and people were unable to get into their houses.

Something similar happened to us a few years ago. We came back from vacation and the garage door wouldn't open. We went to the front door but the battery died in the digital lock. What to do!?!?

We used the hidden spare key to unlock the front door. Problem solved.

Bruce Hayden said...

"It's a concern because local cops (and who else?) can watch your comings and goings"

The missing piece there is that the police in some places have combined this with facial recognition, and can now follow people around the neighborhood. Plus, I think that it is Ring, that has almost no security on its video transmissions back to the cloud, and the rest of the world, which means that it's video streams, of everyone's front porches, are apparently very easy to hack.

If I can get the loan closed before the builder gives up on us, we are planning on moving into a more upscale subdivision up north in Phoenix. And one of the "upgrades" that the builder dumped into the house (and charged for, of course) was a Ring front door camera. I was unimpressed. I asked if they could just get rid of all these "upgrades" and drop the price accordingly. Turns out, they got a discount, because the camera door bells are "professionally" installed, which means that a salesman comes out, hooks it up for free, and in exchange you listen to their sales pitch for their other products. Will probably go through with it anyway, because I think that my partner would benefit from being able to screen front door callers from the family room. But, you are supposed to be able to opt out from the police being able to monitor the live feed. With all the other door bell cameras in the neighborhood, they don't need our feed too.

dreams said...

When you're outside, you never know when someone might be filming you.

Wince said...

In movies and real life, don't people tend to say things just before they open a door and cross the threshold into a home? Either for dramatic effect or to impart something in confidence before entering.

Yet sometime a face says it all.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add that I am more paranoid than most about about these privacy issues. I am on the communications policy committee for a major engineering society, and discussions often involve privacy issues (since our governments almost always prioritize utility above privacy). The question of security of the video feeds has been out for awhile, but probably only became aware of the police doing systematic facial recognition from doorbell cameras fairly recently, at least for me. They have been doing this with you government owned cameras for some time, esp as they install and internetwork more and more cameras. But getting continuous access to privately owned cameras in homes around neighborhoods is a significant encroachmen into our privacy. Just be glad that we aren't Muslims in China, where the government essentially tracks everyone in one region (the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) through facial recognition using ubiquitous cameras. Though, the Chinese government seems to be trying to expand this coverage over much of the urban segments of their country.

Darrell said...

People used to be happy when murderers were brought to justice.

Bruce Hayden said...

I suggested earlier that I didn't trust doorbell cameras. Maybe not, but I am enough of a techy to want to wire up whatever buildings I live in to the extent I am allowed. Which means no electronic surveillance in MT, because that is her house, but I will try the make up for that with the garage that I am building this coming summer. This house has six cameras - N, E, S, W, front porch, and inside the garage. Love following people, but mostly animals, as they stroll between cameras.new house will likely have more. She thinks that I am nutso. I can unlock outside doors remotely, and my big addition last year was adding the ability to open and close the garage door remotely. And, of course, I know when the outside doors, as well as the garage door, are up or down. It was great fun last summer when my partner's daughter and SIL showed up last summer to pick up the Tahoe to tow the Polaris up to visit us in MT. It had to be jumped. No problem - I followed her around by camera telling her over the phone where to find the battery stuff, etc. I also had them bring up a portable A/C unit, directing her around the garage until we found it. During the whole time, I was sitting in the living room in MT 1200 miles away.

Not all good though. A month or so later, got a call from the next door neighbor. Our garage door was open. She also called the police. I was able to get them into the house remotely, and they verified that nothing looked amiss. Then got everything locked up again. I had, of course, set the doors opening while the alarm was set to trigger the alarm (and take pictures of everything). It hadn't triggered when the garage door had opened the previous day. Oops! Somehow the alarm was disabled a day or two earlier. The company providing the services was never able to explain it. Definitely not going with them with the new house. Besides I had a running war with them the entire 6 months that we were in MT. I had the feed for 4 of the cameras going to the cloud. But then put their Internet on vacation pause, cutting off the upload to the cloud. They would kinda get it working, but not well, I would get a rebate for being charged for the continuous upload to the cloud, they would try something different, and it would completely crash. Rinse and repeat, all summer, while we were 1200 miles away.

Definitely going a different direction with the new house. I am thinking right now wired cameras, instead of through WiFi. Communications with WiFi cameras are just not robust enough for six months away. I am mostly ok, by cycling the power for the camera's WiFi router (yes, I can cycle the power for each camera, or other component of the security system, remotely - the major weakness is the cable modem/WiFi router, that I can reboot remotely, just not power down and back up). We shall see.

Michael K said...

I can unlock outside doors remotely, and my big addition last year was adding the ability to open and close the garage door remotely.

At a meeting of the local Astronomy Society, we had a presentation by a guy who set up a remotely controlled telescope building in New Mexico. He lives in Tucson and can drive over in a few hours but it all operates remotely. There is a building with a roof made from a garage door opener. There are three telescopes, one belongs to a guy in Massachusetts who operates it from there.

You'd love it.

The Murder Channel last night had a show on their body cam series about a domestic violence call, the most dangerous kind. It began with a 911 call and escalated. Two cops responded and one was shot and nearly killed. The perp , who was threatening his wife and who shot his grandfather, had the house wired with cameras all over so he could see every room and the garage from a viewer. A real nutcase.

The cop who was shot nearly bled out because the ambulance could not get in until the scene was cleared. I kept wondering why one of the cops did not throw him in his patrol car and drive him away to the ambulance.

All on the body cams. He was really pale in the ambulance.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

If the doorbell is for a private house, you’re not in public, you’ve walked onto private property before you came up to the doorbell.

The camera can see quite a bit past the driveway into the street.

FullMoon said...

Saw a documentery couple of years ago about police in England watching public video cameras in order to see if any wanted criminals passing by. Not particular wanted criminals, but general. People watching cameras were very adept at facial recognition. One thing leads to another and, if memory serves, found an online test and application for police department. Could not find that link today but here is similar.

Online facial recognition test

Narayanan said...

If you are not observed , surveilled has your existing been validated?

Tree, Forest etc.

Statists want all-powerful State doing its thing deafdumbblind ==>>> so use privacy as distraction to keep citizens deafdumbblind.

Mark said...

lived experience

As opposed to an undead experience?

As opposed to the hypothetical or a presumption.

Tom T. said...

Mr. Forward wins the thread.

DavidUW said...

I shot the sheriff.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

We got this far into the discussion with no one using the word "curtilage?!"

And you, a law Professor!

readering said...

In the story the camera merely corroborates the statement heard by a witness. He gets convicted anyway.

readering said...

Cell phones are going to prove the greatest enemy of privacy.