March 22, 2023

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Amazon’s Ring has provided police doorbell footage without owners’ consent 11 times so far this year

Amazon's Ring has provided police doorbell footage without owners' consent 11 times so far this year

The disclosure highlights Amazon’s degree of control over data generated by doorbell cameras and microphones, as well as its deep relationships with thousands of police departments across the country.

July 1 message The response to Senator Ed Markey’s questions released by his office on Wednesday shows that Ring often makes its “good faith decisions” regarding providing surveillance data to law enforcement in the absence of a warrant or the consent of the doorbell owner.

Under its policies, Ring “reserves the right to respond promptly to law enforcement’s urgent requests for information in cases of imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury to any person,” the letter said. According to the letter, the company is also asking the police to fill out a special “emergency request form” if there is an urgent need to bypass the normal law enforcement process.

In each of the 11 cases this year, Amazon Vice President of Public Policy Brian Hausmann wrote, Ring determined that police requests met the threshold of imminent danger and provided the information “without delay.”

Hausmann’s letter said Ring is currently working with 2,161 law enforcement agencies (and 455 fire departments) that can request surveillance data from Ring’s doorbells — a number that Markey said, in a statement, represents a fivefold increase from November 2019.

Separately, the message declined to commit that Ring would never use voice recognition technology for its doorbells and rejected Markey’s request that Ring cameras automatically stop recording audio by default when taking video footage.

“As my ongoing investigation into Amazon makes clear, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the public to move, gather, and speak in public without being tracked and recorded,” Markey said in a statement. “We cannot accept this as an imperative in our country. The increasing reliance of law enforcement on private surveillance is leading to a crisis in accountability, and I am particularly concerned that biometric monitoring could become central to the growing network of surveillance systems that Amazon and other powerful technology companies are responsible for. .”

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In response to a request for comment, a Ring spokesperson said the law “allows companies like Ring to provide information to government entities if the company believes that an emergency situation involving the risk of death or serious bodily injury to anyone, such as a kidnapping or attempted murder, requires disclosure without delay.” Ring faithfully adheres to this legal standard.”

“It is simply not true that Ring is giving anyone unrestricted access to customer data or videos, as we have repeatedly made clear to our customers and others,” the spokesperson added.