Washington Law Review

Comment

Ring, Amazon Calling: The State Action Doctrine & The Fourth Amendment

| 95 Wash. L. Rev. Online 245

 
Video doorbells have proliferated across the United States and Amazon owns one of the most popular video doorbell companies on the market—Ring. While many view the Ring video doorbell as useful technology that protects the home and promotes safer neighborhoods, the product reduces consumer privacy without much recourse. For example, Ring partners with cities and law enforcement agencies across the United States thereby creating a mass surveillance network in which law enforcement agencies can watch neighborhoods and access Ring data without the user’s knowledge or consent. Because Amazon is not a state actor, it is able to circumvent the due process requirements of the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, through these partnerships, law enforcement agencies may circumvent Fourth Amendment requirements by having Amazon access users’ information for them. This Comment argues Amazon should be recognized as a state actor under the state action doctrine so that Ring users are protected by the Fourth Amendment. As technology develops, the law is playing catch-up. This Comment proposes holding private companies—namely Amazon— to the same standards as state actors in order to protect the privacy of consumers.
Download Full Article PDF