Amazon’s Ring requires police to request user videos publicly

Amazon's Ring requires police to request user videos publicly

June 4, 2021: -Amazon’s Ring will soon start requiring police departments to publicly request user videos or information collected by the company’s intelligent doorbells and cameras.

In a blog post-Thursday, Ring said it would begin next week; public safety agencies will be able to submit requests for video clips through its community safety app, called Neighbors,  public posts accessible on the main feed of the app. Previously, agencies could message users to request videos privately.

The Ring has been beset with concerns around privacy and racial profiling. As a result, it has formed partnerships with police departments that allow the agencies to request videos and share updates with Ring users. According to the company’s active agency tracker, thousands of police and fire departments in the U.S. have partnered with Ring.

Amazon acquired Ring in February 2018. The company, which operates as a subsidiary of Amazon, offers various intelligent security devices that allow people to remotely check in on their homes, which include video doorbells, floodlights, windows, and door alarms. It’s also releasing a flying security camera drone.

Ring’s smart doorbell, one of its popular products, is equipped with a security camera that starts recording when it detects motion automatically. The user is then notified in the Ring app, and they can view the footage.

Lawmakers and civil liberties groups have stepped up their scrutiny of how Ring collects and shares user data. Amazon employees have also raised privacy concerns about the technology. However, at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting last week, a proposal to audit the company’s impact on civil rights, equity, and diversity issues, including whether Ring and the Neighbors app “disproportionally tag people of color as suspicious,” was narrowly defeated.

Ring said the new “Request for Assistance” feature would provide greater transparency into what information law enforcement agencies are requesting. For example, users will view a history of data requests made by specific police departments, and agencies won’t delete posts from the app.

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