Amazon tightens police access to Ring camera video

A Ring doorbell camera is seen installed outside a home in Wolcott, Connecticut. On Jan 24, 2024, Amazon-owned Ring said it will stop allowing police departments to request doorbell camera footage from users, marking an end to a feature that has drawn criticism from privacy advocates. — AP

SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon on Jan 24 said it will stop letting police directly ask people for video from the company’s Ring doorbell or home security cameras.

App updates include getting rid of a “Request for Assistance” feature that allowed police to request and receive video captured by Ring cameras, according to a post by Ring executive Eric Kuhn.

Human rights advocates have long opposed the feature, saying it threatens privacy and exacerbates racial profiling.

“Ring shutting down the red carpet surveillance portal they offered to police is unquestionably a victory for the coalition of racial justice and human rights advocates,” said Fight for the Future director Evan Greer.

“The ability for law enforcement to use the Neighbors app to mass-request footage from camera owners was always dangerous.”

Ring launched the Neighbors app in 2017, giving people using its home security cameras a way to share videos of thieves stealing delivered packages or stray pets passing by.

Last year, people shared “Ring moments” on their social channels more than a million times, according to Kuhn.

Police and fire officials will still be able to use the Ring’s Neighbors app to share information with users, but will have to use more traditional channels such as obtaining warrants for video related to investigations.

“They envision a world blanketed in cheap, Amazon-made cameras, where people are constantly watching each other and sharing the content, whether it’s a ‘heartwarming moment’ or a violent crime,” Greer said. – AFP

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