Baltimore Sun

Ring video given to police 11 times without user’s consent

- By Haleluya Hadero

Amazon has provided Ring doorbell footage to law enforcemen­t 11 times this year without the user’s permission, a revelation that’s bound to raise more privacy and civil liberty concerns about its video-sharing agreements with police department­s across the country.

The disclosure came in a letter from the company that was made public last week by Sen. Edward Markey, a Massachuse­tts Democrat who sent a separate letter to Amazon last month questionin­g Ring’s surveillan­ce practices and engagement with law enforcemen­t.

Ring has said before it will not share customer informatio­n with police without consent, a warrant or due to “an exigent or emergency” circumstan­ce.

The 11 videos shared this year fell under the emergency provision, Amazon’s letter said, the first time the company publicly shared such informatio­n.

The letter, dated July 1, did not say which videos were shared with police.

Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, wrote in the letter that in each instance, “Ring made a good-faith determinat­ion that there was an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person requiring disclosure of informatio­n without delay.”

In such cases, Huseman wrote Ring “reserves the right to respond immediatel­y to urgent law enforcemen­t requests for informatio­n,” adding the company makes a determinat­ion as to when to share video footage without user consent based on informatio­n provided to it in an emergency request form and circumstan­ces described by law


Some prior requests from law enforcemen­t have raised concerns about how police might be attempting to use Ring footage.

Last year, the nonprofit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation reported the Los Angeles Police Department requested Ring footage of Black Lives Matter protests from users in 2020.

In a statement, Markey’s office said the findings show a close relationsh­ip between Ring and law enforcemen­t, and a proliferat­ion of police using the platform.

Amazon said in its letter that 2,161 law enforcemen­t agencies are enrolled in Ring’s Neighbors app, a forum for residents to share videos of suspicious activity captured by their home security cameras. That number represents a fivefold increase since November 2019, according to the senator’s office.

“As my ongoing investigat­ion into Amazon illustrate­s, it has become increasing­ly difficult for the public to move, assemble, and converse in public

without being tracked and recorded,” Markey said in a statement.

Among other things, the senator’s statement also criticized the company for not clarifying the distance Ring products can capture audio recordings.

The company had said in its response letter what Ring captures “depends on many conditions, including device placement and environmen­tal conditions.”

The Ring disclosure comes as Amazon is facing broader antitrust scrutiny in Congress and also in Europe about its e-commerce business, and accusation­s of undercutti­ng merchants that sell on its platform by making “knock-offs,” or very similar products, and boosting their presence on its site.

Markey and several other Democratic lawmakers are also pushing for a bill that prohibits the use of biometric technology by federal agencies and ties federal grant funding to states and localities on the condition that they put a moratorium on the use of such technology.

 ?? JESSICA HILL /AP 2019 ?? Amazon disclosed that it has provided footage from its Ring doorbell system to law enforcemen­t 11 times this year without obtaining the user’s consent.
JESSICA HILL /AP 2019 Amazon disclosed that it has provided footage from its Ring doorbell system to law enforcemen­t 11 times this year without obtaining the user’s consent.

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