Amazon-owned home security camera company Ring said it would allow police departments to request footage of users in its app amid long-standing concerns from privacy advocates about the company’s ties to law enforcement. Will stop allowing.
Eric Kuhn, general manager of subscriptions and software for Ring App Neighbors, announced on Wednesday The company is shutting down the feature that allowed police to request and receive video from users of the app, a social platform similar to Nextdoor and Citizen where people can share alerts about crime near their home .
Mr. Kuhn did not explain why Ring was ending the app feature, which allowed police to ask for help from the public in active investigations under a special category of posts called “Requests for Assistance.”
People can respond to posts by sending police videos that may be relevant to the investigation without the police needing to ask for a warrant.
“Request for assistance” feature was introduced June 2021 To provide users with more information about how local law enforcement is using Ring to collect information.
People can also opt out of receiving these types of posts on the app. First, Police were able to send private email requests Not just for people using the Neighbors app, but for footage for Ring users in their area of interest.
Mr. Kuhn said police and fire departments will still be able to post publicly on Neighbors to share safety tips, updates and community events. People don’t need a Ring device to use the app.
Privacy advocates have criticized Ring for its partnerships with police and say the easy-to-install home security cameras increase racial discrimination.
Civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation celebrates changes to Ring In a statement But said the widespread proliferation of doorbell cameras still threatens people’s rights.
“This is a victory in a long battle, not only against mass police surveillance, but also against the culture in which private, profit-making companies are forced to allow law enforcement to more easily access the companies’ users and their data.” manufactures specialized equipment – all of which ultimately undermines the trust of their customers,” the statement said.
on ring websiteThe company said law enforcement agencies can’t use the Neighbors app to access or control people’s Ring cameras or view recordings not posted to the app.
The website includes a map of fire departments and police departments that use the app. These agencies have used Neighbors to provide updates on road closures and police activity, as well as share safety tips, such as reminders to lock car doors at night, and about upcoming events such as virtual town halls. Information in.
Amazon acquired Ring in 2018 a letter was made public By Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey In 2022, Amazon said that more than 2,100 law enforcement agencies participated in the Neighbors app.
In LetterAmazon’s vice president of public policy, Brian Huseman, also said that Amazon had shared Ring footage with law enforcement 11 times in 2022 using a process that does not require user consent.
“In each instance, Ring made a good faith determination that there was an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to any person that required disclosing the information without delay,” Mr. Hussman said.
Last year, The Federal Trade Commission said Ring had allowed its employees and contractors to access private videos and that Amazon was fined $5.8 million after hackers failed to implement security measures to protect customers from online threats such as breaking into cameras. Agreed to pay dollars. Ring denied those claims In a statement dated May 2023 Announcement of agreement.