In a significant move, Amazon’s Ring has announced the discontinuation of the ability for law enforcement to request doorbell video footage through its neighborhood watch app.
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Amazon’s Ring Ceases Police Access to Doorbell Video Footage Requests
Ending the “Request for Assistance” Tool
In a recent blog post, Ring revealed its decision to terminate the “Request for Assistance” tool. This tool allowed law enforcement agencies to submit requests for users’ footage through a publicly accessible post in the Neighbors app.
Changes in Public Safety Access
Eric Kuhn, Head of Neighbors, stated in the post, “Public safety agencies such as fire and police departments can still leverage the Neighbors app to share safety tips, updates, and community events. However, the use of the RFA tool to request and receive video within the app will no longer be available.”
Evolution of Ring’s Policy
In 2021, Ring made police requests for user footage public in its Neighbors app. This move shifted the process from private messaging to public visibility for law enforcement seeking clips from smart doorbell cameras.
Limited Access and Legal Routes
Despite the changes, law enforcement can still obtain Ring video footage through a search warrant or subpoena. In response to Senator Ed Markey’s 2022 inquiry about police partnerships, Ring acknowledged that it might provide footage directly to law enforcement in situations involving imminent danger to life or serious physical injury.
Amazon’s Acquisition and Ring’s Portfolio
Amazon acquired Ring in 2015 for a reported $1 billion. Known for its connected doorbell devices, Ring has expanded its product range, including camera-equipped floodlights and flying security camera drones.
Controversies Surrounding Privacy
Ring has faced ongoing privacy controversies, primarily due to its partnerships with numerous police departments. Privacy advocates express concerns about racial profiling risks and the potential transformation of residents into informants without sufficient oversight on law enforcement’s material use.
Leadership Shifts and App Updates
Former CEO Jamie Siminoff framed Ring’s features as a public safety tool. Despite his vision, controversy persisted. Siminoff stepped down in the previous year, replaced by Elizabeth Hamren, a former executive at Microsoft and Discord.
In the latest blog post, Kuhn revealed upcoming updates to the Neighbors app, introducing “Ring Moments,” a new post category expanding content beyond crime and safety. Additionally, a “Best of Ring” tool will feature a rotating selection of top videos. These changes signal Ring’s ongoing commitment to community engagement and safety, while addressing concerns about user privacy.