Oct 20, 2022 - Technology

Study: Doorbell cameras take toll on delivery workers

A Ring doorbell camera

Image: Courtesy of Ring

Homeowners are increasingly using doorbell cameras, such as Amazon's Ring product, to surveil and even harass delivery workers, according to a recent report from Data & Society.

Why it matters: Surveillance isn't just companies watching people — it's also people watching other people, and doorbell cameras are a prominent instance of this sort of distributed remote observation.

What they're saying: "While doorbell cameras are heavily marketed and described as tools for safety and security in the home, they are also near-constant tools of workplace surveillance for delivery workers," researchers Aiha Nguyen and Eve Zelickson write in the report.

  • Camera owners often use what the researchers call "boss behavior," using what they record to "monitor, instruct, and punish delivery workers."

Between the lines: Compounding the issue is the fact that many of those making deliveries are gig workers, who already lack significant benefits and job security.

The big picture: This is just the latest warning over how images from doorbell cameras are being used.

  • Much of the previous focus has been on police use of private surveillance-camera footage, which privacy experts say is typically subject to few legal limitations and can easily be misused.
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