Amazon’s Ring to stop video-sharing program with police

Amazon’s Ring will no longer let police and other government agencies request doorbell camera footage from within the company’s Neighbors app. In a blog post on Wednesday, Ring said it plans to discontinue its “Request for Assistance” tool. Authorities seeking surveillance videos will now have to submit a formal legal request to the company, rather than soliciting footage directly from users through the app.

“Public safety agencies like fire and police departments can still use the Neighbors app to share helpful safety tips, updates, and community events,” Eric Kuhn, head of Neighbors, wrote in the post. “They will no longer be able to use the RFA tool to request and receive video in the app.”

Privacy advocates are hailing the move as a long-awaited victory for civil liberties. Ring has long sparked controversy about privacy due to its controversial partnerships with hundreds of police departments across the country. Privacy advocates have expressed concern that the program, and Ring’s accompanying Neighbors app, have heightened the risk of racial profiling, turning residents into informants, with few guides on how law enforcement can use the material.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, who questioned Ring about its practices in 2022, had said authorities’ use of Ring footage “creates a crisis of accountability.” Ring in response disclosed that the company may provide footage directly to law enforcement “in cases involving imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person.”

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