New York — In a recent blog post, Ring, the doorbell-camera company owned by tech giant Amazon (AMZN, +0.54%), announced that it will no longer allow police departments to request doorbell-camera footage from its users. This decision comes as a response to widespread concerns raised by privacy advocates.
Ring stated that it will be sunsetting its "Request for Assistance" tool, which enables police departments and public safety agencies to obtain video captured by the doorbell cameras through Ring's Neighbors app. The change will go into effect this week.
Although Ring did not provide a specific reason for this decision, Eric Kuhn, the head of Neighbors, assured that law enforcement agencies can still utilize the Neighbors app to make public posts. Additionally, they can share useful safety tips, updates, and community events through the app.
This update marks the latest move by Ring to limit police involvement on the Neighbors app. Privacy watchdogs have expressed concerns about the company's associations with police departments nationwide. Critics argue that these partnerships, coupled with the ability for users to report suspicious activity, can result in constant surveillance and contribute to instances of racial profiling within neighborhoods.
Ring's decision to halt the practice of sharing doorbell-camera footage with law enforcement demonstrates a commitment to addressing privacy concerns while also maintaining a safe community.
Increased Transparency in Police Requests: Ring's Policy Update
In 2021, Ring made a significant policy change aimed at enhancing transparency. The company modified its Neighbors app to make police requests publicly visible. Previously, law enforcement agencies could discreetly contact Ring owners residing near an area of an active investigation, seeking video footage through private emails.
However, law enforcement agencies still retain the ability to access videos by obtaining a search warrant. It is important to note that Ring maintains the right to share footage without user consent in specific circumstances.
In mid-2022, it was revealed that Ring had provided 11 videos to the police without notifying the users. This occurred in situations categorized as "exigent or emergency," where immediate action was necessary. Yet, Guariglia remains skeptical about the company's and police's ability to accurately determine what qualifies as an emergency.
Through these updates and developments, Ring aims to balance transparency, user privacy, and law enforcement needs.