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Report Reveals Controversy Surrounding Video Doorbells — and Why Delivery Drivers Don't Like Them

Homeowners exhibiting "boss behaviors" are complicating the issue of surveillance.

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As video doorbells, like the Amazon-owned Ring brand, increase in popularity, so do some of the surveillance issues that surround them.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

According to a report from research firm Data & Society, delivery drivers from FedEx to UberEats and even Amazon itself have frequently been subjected to a range of actions the authors describe as "boss behavior" — like barking orders at drivers, and, in some cases, uploading the recordings to social media.

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According to The Guardian, Amazon's Ring system is poised to become the largest corporate-owned, civilian-installed surveillance network in the U.S., with 400,000 Ring devices sold in December 2019 alone — even before the pandemic pumped up online retail sales.

One Ring-related case last year involved an Amazon delivery driver who was recorded during what appeared to be a mental breakdown — yelling "Shit" repeatedly before driving away. The homeowner put the video on TikTok, where it received more than 1.3 million views and over 8,000 comments.

"Why should you put someone on social media?" a driver told Data & Society. "Why don't you just report directly to Amazon, and maybe they can deal with it?...That's like an invasion of privacy, too, and it doesn't end up well. You can imagine how the family of that driver feels when they see that footage."

Other viral Ring videos feature drivers throwing or kicking packages, or leaving them extremely far from the door.

Related: Amazon Delivery Driver Gets Paid for 'Doing Nothing'

The majority of drivers believed that using doorbell camera footage for public shaming was unacceptable, but some also saw the devices as benefiting themselves — preventing them from being falsely accused of package theft in some cases.

But the authors of the report stress that doorbell-camera-enabled "boss behaviors" continue to complicate worker management, giving Amazon and other companies more control over delivery drivers who they claim are independent contractors.

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