Amazon’s home security company, Ring, pressed the chief editor at a Ukrainian business publication last year to delete a passage in an article touting the successes of Ring’s Kyiv-based research lab, the Intercept reported Friday. The article reportedly included a quote attributed to the general manager of Ring Ukraine stating the lab was not only working on Ring products, but on “many other Amazon projects” as well.
Ring Ukraine became the focus of Intercept reporting last year after a source told journalist Sam Biddle that Ring employees based in Kyiv had “unfettered access” to Ring camera footage.
BuzzFeed News later found that someone with the job title “head of face recognition research” worked at the R&D lab, even though Ring – which has partnerships with over 700 police departments across the US – had repeatedly denied interest in combining its surveillance products with biometric technology.
Ring did not respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
According to the Intercept, the Ukrainian publication, Vector, published its article on 21 November. In it, Ring Ukraine General Manager Lyubomir Vasiliev is cited discussing the growth of the operation since Ring was purchased by Amazon mid-2018. (The Intercept translated with Google Translate.)
“It’s about reaching a new level. We are no longer part of a small startup, but a full-fledged R&D centre working for one of the world’s largest corporations. We are involved not only in Ring’s product line but also in many other Amazon projects. That is, We are a large Ukrainian team of specialists working on the world market,” explained Vasiliev.
The portion of the quote in bold was deleted by Vector after publication at the request of Ring’s media relations office, the Intercept reported, citing on-the-record confirmation by Vector’s new editor-in-chief whose predecessor was responsible for the edit. Vector said Ring’s request to remove “Amazon” from the article was based on “possible legal problems.” The article was not appended to note any change had been made.
Ring works to maintain tight control over the information made public about its products and partnerships with law enforcement in the US. Its contracts with police generally forbid public officials from issuing statements about Ring without first obtaining its approval. In some cases, Ring employees have edited quotes later attributed in the press to top police officials.
Gizmodo US reported last year that in multiple cases, Ring had removed the word “surveillance” from statements issued by city officials, warning them using the word might elicit “privacy concerns.”
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