Thursday, September 29, 2022

‘Ring Nation’ Is What Happens When America’s Funniest Home Videos Meet Black Mirror

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Wanda Sykes has reported host America’s Funniest Home Videos kind of TV show. However, it won’t show clips intentionally captured with cameras or phones – no, it will feature videos captured by Ring doorbells and smart home cameras. The show is called Ring Nation, and it is a production of MGM Television and Big Fish Entertainment. If you’re wondering what the common denominator is between the three, it’s none other than Amazon. The e-commerce giant owns MGM and Big Fish and bought Ring’s smart doorbell business in 2018 for $1 billion.

According to Deadline, Ring Nation will show viral videos with content such as neighbors rescuing neighbors, marriage proposals, military reunions and animals doing crazy things. In other words, videos you’re likely to come across online if you use social networks regularly, unless the show also includes new content that could potentially go viral, such as shared by Ring owners.

Barry Poznick, president of alternative television and Orion TV at MGM, said, “From the incredible, to the hilarious and uplifting viral moments you must watch every day from across the country, Ring Nation offers something for everyone watching at home.”

That Amazon wants to shoot videos captured by its smart doorbells, a source of funny family TV, can also feel a bit black mirror-ish, especially when you consider Ring’s relationship with law enforcement. Senator Edward Markey recently shared a disclosure showing that Amazon has provided Ring images to law enforcement officers in the US 11 times without a court order or user consent.

A company spokesperson justified Ring’s actions, telling us that the law allows companies to “provide information to government agencies if the company believes that an emergency involving life-threatening or serious bodily harm to a person … requires prompt disclosure.” Markey tweeted about his revelation: “We cannot accept this surveillance as inevitable.” He also used the reveal as an example why lawmakers should pass the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, which he enacted in hopes of banning law enforcement’s use of the technologies.

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