Man Locked Out of Smart Home Devices for Nearly a Week after Delivery Driver Accuses Him of Making Racial Remarks Through Ring Doorbell

By B.N. Frank

Over the years, countless experts have warned about privacy and cybersecurity risks with all “smart” (see 1, 2, 3), wireless and/or Internet of Things (IoT) technology, not just Amazon’s.  Nevertheless, lawsuits and settlements associated with privacy violations via Amazon’s devices and software continue to make headlines (see 1, 2, 3).  If that’s not enough for users to deactivate the company’s “smart” home devices, perhaps a Microsoft Engineer’s recent experience will.

From Zerohedge:

Amazon Locks Man Out Of Smart Home Devices Over False Racism Claims

by Tyler Durden

Amazon locked a Microsoft engineer out of his smart home devices for nearly a week after a delivery driver accused him of uttering a racial slur.

According to a June 4 blog post on Medium, Brandon Jackson found himself locked out of his Amazon Echo Show on May 25. When he contacted customer service, he was given the number of an Amazon executive – which he thought was a scam.

When I connected with the executive, they asked if I knew why my account had been locked,” he wrote. “When I answered I was unsure, their tone turned somewhat accusatory. I was told that the driver who had delivered my package reported receiving racist remarks from my ‘Ring doorbell.‘”

Jackson, who is black, said that the accusation was improbable, as many of the delivery drivers in his area are the same race – thus, the racial slur was “highly unlikely.”

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Jackson tracked down the time that the driver would have dropped off his package (May 24 at 6:05 p.m.), and compared it  to footage from his home at the time of the incident – revealing that nobody was home at the time of the delivery. Instead, Jackson thinks that his Eufy automated doorbell said to the driver “Excuse me, can I help you?”

“The driver, who was walking away and wearing headphones, must have misinterpreted the message,” wrote Jackson, adding that even after he shared the evidence with Amazon, his account remained locked.

“Despite numerous calls and emails, it wasn’t until Friday afternoon [on May 26] that I received confirmation that the investigation had started,” he wrote, adding that it wasn’t until May 31 that access was finally restored.

In a statement to NTD News, Amazon said: “we learned through our investigation that the customer did not act inappropriately, and we’re working directly with the customer to resolve their concerns while also looking at ways to prevent a similar situation from happening again.”

More via the Epoch Times;

Impact of the Lockout

While he was locked out of the Amazon account he typically used for his smart home devices, Jackson said he had already thought ahead about alternate ways to control his devices.

“I already had everything set up so if something did fail I have fallbacks so I wasn’t truly in the dark,” Jackson explained in a subsequent video post about the experience. “But I wrote [my blog post] from the perspective of someone who—what if they didn’t do all that.”

Jackson, who is an engineer at Microsoft and is relatively tech savvy, shared his concerns for owners of smart home devices who don’t have the same knowledge base and find themselves locked out in a similar incident.

He said the incident led him to lose trust in Amazon due to how it kept him locked out through the duration of the ordeal.

I fully support Amazon taking measures to ensure the safety of their drivers. However, I question why my entire smart home system had to be rendered unusable during their internal investigation,” he wrote.

Jackson also argued that Amazon or other companies shouldn’t be able to block people from using the products they purchased because they expressed the wrong opinions.

If you bought a toaster right, it doesn’t matter what you did, how bad of a person you were how good of a person you are, you still own the toaster at the end of the day right?” Jackson said. “And if you really did do something that was so horrible and bad that shouldn’t be Amazon or Google or Apple’s call to do anything about that. You know, we already have a system set up for that and that’s what you should be going through.”

Another disadvantage to “smart” home devices:  they emit harmful electromagnetic and wireless radiation and manufacturers are required to warn users about this.  Got pets?  Exposure is bad for their health too!

In fact, a U.S. federal court ruled in favor of organizations and petitioners that sued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for NOT adequately protecting Americans from wireless radiation exposure (including 5G) in 2021.   More recently one of the organizations petitioned the agency to comply with the now almost 2-year old court-ordered mandate!  Of course, the Food and Drug Administration is supposed to protect Americans from exposure too, hence organizations are petitioning that agency to do its job as well.

Activist Post reports regularly about privacy invasive and unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives.

Image: Pixabay

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