By: April Carson
Amazon stated that its Ring security cameras have sent recordings to authorities without the owners' knowledge or consent.
In a letter issued July 1, Amazon revealed that it has given police 11 times in 2022 private recordings as part of an "emergency request." The firm said it was following an "urgent demand."
The revelation has sparked privacy concerns among Ring customers, who worry that their footage could be shared without their knowledge or consent.
"It is deeply troubling that Amazon would provide police with access to private security camera footage without the consent of its customers," said Nathan Freed Wessler, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU. "This type of surveillance can easily be abused to target vulnerable communities and stifle dissent."
Ring has come under fire in recent years for its close relationship with law enforcement. The company offers police free access to its Neighbors app, which allows users to share crime and safety alerts in their area.
"In each case, Ring made a reasonable judgment that there was an impending danger of death or significant bodily harm to someone in need of information disclosure, and provided the data promptly," according to the company's statement to Markey.
The ACLU has been critical of the company's partnerships with law enforcement, saying they could lead to racial profiling and violate people's civil liberties.
Ring cameras have long been the subject of controversy, and many people are concerned about how Amazon interacts with cops. In 2020, when Jess Joho from Mashable wrote about Ring being "a cop," there were over 1,189 local police and fire departments that joined the Neighbors Portal program. In response to Markey's letter, Amazon stated that there were now 2,161 law enforcement agencies enrolled in its Neighbors Public Safety Service, which allows cops to request video from Ring users in non-emergency situations. So even if the situation isn't severe enough for an emergency call or dispatch , there's a good chance cops will be able to get footage from Amazon.
What's more, there's no guarantee that footage shared with police will actually be used to solve crimes. A study from Upturn , a research organization that focuses on technology and civil rights, found that out of 400 cases where police requested footage from Amazon's Ring doorbells, only 3 resulted in an arrest.
"As my ongoing investigation into Amazon reflects, it's gotten increasingly difficult for the general public to walk around, assemble, and converse in public without being observed. We can't let this happen in our country. Biometric monitoring poses a serious accountability issue because police are turning to private surveillance more frequently. I'm particularly concerned that biometric surveillance may become a part of the expanding web of surveillance systems that Amazon and other powerful tech firms are responsible for," Markey added.
In response to the report, an Amazon spokesperson said that "customers can review and delete video footage from their devices at any time." The spokesperson also said that Ring provides police with "necessary and important information" that helps officers "solve crimes and keep communities safe."
"We take the trust our customers place in us very seriously and work hard every day to uphold that trust. We are constantly innovating on behalf of our customers and will continue working hard to ensure they have control over their data," the spokesperson added.
In a letter to Markey, Amazon says it will not promise never to utilize voice recognition technology and that it would also not promise to cease the practice of automatically recording audio when filming video. Ring claimed it did not simply give data without authorization.
"It's categorically false that Ring provides anyone with unlimited access to consumer data or video, as we've made clear to our consumers and the public on numerous occasions," it added.
It's no secret that Amazon-owned Ring has close ties to law enforcement. The home security company offers police access to its Neighbors app, which lets users share footage and information with each other, as well as a database of Ring camera footage.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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