The world’s most popular technology company Amazon has announced that amidst the new safety policy, its Ring unit will require police and fire departments to request Amazon’s Ring home surveillance videos via public posts on its community safety app, called Neighbors.
Starting next week, public safety agencies interested in accessing Ring videos will have to reach out via a publicly viewable post on Amazon’s Ring app called Neighbors. They were previously able to make such requests privately.
Currently, Ring permits its law enforcement partners to privately message Ring users to access footage from their devices.
But Ring has been stung by criticism over its once-private agreements letting some 600 law enforcement agencies around the country tap into its Neighbors app.
“If you’re an adult walking your dog or a child playing on the sidewalk, you shouldn’t have to worry that Ring’s products are amassing footage of you and that law enforcement may hold that footage indefinitely or share that footage with any third parties,” Sen. Ed Markey told in 2019.
According to a 2019 post, police departments have even reportedly raffled off the devices in some communities with the caveat that recipients of the smart doorbells need to hand over footage when requested.
Moreover, Amazon acquired Ring in February 2018. The company gives an array of smart security devices that allow people to remotely check in on their homes, including video doorbells, floodlights, window and door alarms.
Ring’s smart doorbell is equipped with a security camera that automatically starts recording when it identifies the motion. The user is then notified in the Ring app and they can view the footage.
However, Ring said the new “Request for Assistance” feature will help provide greater transparency into what information law enforcement agencies are requesting.
Users will be able to view a history of data requests made by specific police departments and agencies won’t be able to delete posts from the app.