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Police departments have to make Ring video requests in public now

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Amazon’s Ring video doorbell service has a cop problem. The latest Ring policy change won’t fix that, but it could at least add a tiny bit more transparency to the way police departments use Ring.

Ring announced in a blog post that police departments will have to use a new feature called Request for Assistance in the company’s Neighbors mobile app to get information out of Ring users, such as videos from the device cameras. Request for Assistance posts are public by nature, attached to verified police department accounts, and cannot be deleted. If a user wants to see the entire Request for Assistance history of a particular police department, they can do that.

Ring's new Request for Assistance feature in the Neighbors app.

Ring’s new Request for Assistance feature in the Neighbors app.

Image: amazon / ring

In other words, cops can’t privately reach out to Ring owners to get footage out of them anymore, at least not according to official Ring policy. The company has been under ample scrutiny lately as its video doorbells have arguably been turned into a nationwide, private surveillance system for cops rather than something customers can use for their own safety. The number of police departments that have partnered with Ring for that exact purpose is in the thousands.

As an aside, Ring’s own employees have apparently tried to access Ring user videos in the past, too. Consider your comfort with all of the above before buying a Ring doorbell.

Anyway, the new Ring policy isn’t significant enough to quell public outrage about the company’s police partnerships, but putting a barrier between cops and users is something, at least. And having a public record for accountability purposes is a big step forward. Between police surveillance and the possibility that Ring employees might breach user privacy, you should strongly consider your comfort level with all of the above before getting a Ring device.


Tags

amazon, Police, Ring, Ring Doorbell, Ring Home Security


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