There is no legal issue with posting the content of the cameras. It is generally legal to post video footage captured in a public space where the subject of the video lacks a reasonable expectation of privacy. When a person is in a public space, like on a sidewalk, consent rules often don't apply. A person's front door area is considered private for Fourth Amendment purposes, meaning the police can snoop around without a warrant. Ring's terms of service states that the decision to post content is almost entirely at the discretion of the camera's owner, who also has the responsibility of ensuring that their use of surveillance devices does not violate local privacy laws.

Ring warns users against using cam footage in a way that is harmful, fraudulent, deceptive, threatening, harassing, defamatory, obscene, or otherwise objectionable.

Our expectation of privacy at a person's doorstep has continued to decline as the cameras have continued to soar in popularity. Privacy rights in the US are often a reflection of cultural sentiment about who is deserving of such rights. If a person is suspicious of a camera owner, those rights are lost.

First, your privacy rights are at the mercy of the camera's owner, and then a few common sentiments are used for justification. If you don't want your behavior to be made public, don't do something that the rest of us don't like. This can be a criminal act. Sometimes, it's for things we used to consider a nuisance.

We have become comfortable with a broad definition of which criminal acts should be public. Three young people smoking crack, huddled against a wooden fence, are being filmed by a camera. A few user comments made reference to conspiracy theories about the Biden administration, while others posted emojis of dismay at the drug activity happening in a public, residential space. Several other videos feature people who are likely unhoused, shuffling by with shopping carts and talking to themselves. It is true that loitering and vagrancy have been criminalized in most countries, and while it is illegal to possess crack cocaine, the long-standing police rationale for posting the identity of a person suspected of a crime is typically for locating a fugitive or identifying. Any behavior we don't want in our backyard or doorstep has been blurred by the ease of sharing the footage.

In some ways, the value judgments around the footage illustrates the tensions of the moment. People are frustrated by their perceived risk of becoming a victim of crime as fear of crime rises again in a post-quarantine world. In the wake of public criticism of policing, faith in that institution has declined as well. As public support for broken-window policing declined, nuisance crimes, loitering, public intoxication, and petty theft were featured heavily in the surveillance footage shared across social platforms. We have become more comfortable policing these behaviors ourselves through the power of digital public shaming because the public is less comfortable with it.