Amazon's Ring Partners with 200 Police Departments, Report Says
According to an email obtained by Motherboard via public record request, Amazon is striking up partnerships with law enforcement agencies all across the United States. During an April Ring webinar, Waynesboro, VA Chief of Police transcribed notes that he then emailed to himself. At the time, he wrote that 200 law enforcement agencies were using Ring’s service, though that number may have changed over these last 3 months.
The notes vaguely described how the partnership between the police district and Ring would work: officers could request access to footage via Ring’s platform sans-warrant. Rest assured however, police would still need to obtain consent from Ring customers before accessing any type of footage.
Ring eased privacy concerns by reiterating the need for consent in a statement:
Every decision we make at Ring centers around privacy, security and user control. While Law enforcement partners can submit video requests for users in a given area when investigating an active case, Ring facilitates these requests and user consent is required in order for any footage or information to be shared. Law enforcement cannot see how many Ring users received the request, declined to share or opted-out of all future requests.
This also isn’t the first time Amazon has struck up a partnership with the law. Local law enforcement officials have used Amazon’s facial recognition tool, Rekognition, in their community, and Amazon even pitched its use to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Motherboard also said Amazon has worked with police to prevent thieves from swiping packages off of doorsteps. This new partnership, which Amazon is calling "Neighbors by Ring" is hoping to accomplish more than just apprehending porch pirates, and several people are already on board.
“It's time to come to grips with the fact that the 1984 dystopian future we all fear isn't something a future authoritarian government might impose,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of digital rights advocacy group, Fight for the Future. “It's something that's being built right now, in plain sight, through partnerships between private companies and government agencies.”