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Amazon Reportedly Gave Ring Videos to Police Without Owners’ Permission

Amazon has provided footage from Ring video cameras to police without permission from owners or a court warrant 11 times this year, the company acknowledged in a letter in the US. Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, said in the letter dated July 1 that Ring complied with those requests from law enforcement after making a “good-faith determination” about risk.

Markey had written to Ring last month asking the company to clarify its relationship with American police and to commit to some policy reforms, including never allowing immigration enforcement to request recordings and committing to not incorporating voice recognition tech into its products. Huseman declined to commit to any of the requests and disclosed that Ring now lets 2,161 police departments use its Neighbors app, five times more than it did in November 2019. Law enforcement officials can use the app to issue alerts and request videos.

“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. “We cannot accept this as inevitable in our country,” the Massachusetts lawmaker continued. “Increasing law enforcement reliance on private surveillance creates a crisis of accountability, and I am particularly concerned that biometric surveillance could become central to the growing web of surveillance systems that Amazon and other powerful tech companies are responsible for.”

A Ring spokesperson defended handing over the footage without permission. “The law authorizes companies like Ring to provide information to government entities if the company believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person, such as a kidnapping or an attempted murder, requires disclosure without delay,” they said. “Ring faithfully applies that legal standard.”

Amazon declined to clarify what qualifies as that kind of situation in the July 1 letter, only saying the company determined that the risk of death or serious physical injury required “​​disclosure of information without delay.”

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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