- Police officers who access video footage from Amazon’s Ring doorbell cameras can keep those videos forever and share them with anyone, even if the video includes no evidence of a crime, Amazon told a senator earlier this month.
- Ring is partnered with more than 600 police departments across the US. Those departments can request footage from Ring security cameras with consumers’ consent.
- Amazon disclosed the fact that the police could keep Ring videos forever in a response to a letter from Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, The Washington Post first reported.
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Thanks to Amazon’s Ring network, more than 600 police departments across the US can now request video footage from internet-enabled, motion-detecting security cameras from thousands of people’s homes.
Once the police download those videos, they can keep them forever and share them with anyone, Amazon disclosed in response to questions from a US senator earlier this month. That includes cases in which Ring camera footage doesn’t show any evidence of a crime.
Amazon’s vice president of public policy, Brian Huseman, made the disclosure in response to a letter from Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who has joined other lawmakers in raising concerns surrounding what Ring’s network means for the future of police surveillance.
“Amazon Ring’s policies are an open door for privacy and civil-liberty violations,” Markey said in a statement Tuesday. “If you’re an adult walking your dog or a child playing on the sidewalk, you shouldn’t have to worry that Ring’s products are amassing footage of you and that law enforcement may hold that footage indefinitely or share that footage with any third parties.”
A Ring representative told Business Insider that it’s up to users whether to share video from their Ring cameras with the police, emphasizing that the police could download footage only with consumers’ consent. Ring’s founder, Jamie Siminoff, has defended the company’s privacy practices in a blog post.
“Ring users place their trust in us to help protect their homes and communities, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” the Ring representative said. “Ring does not own or otherwise control users’ videos, and we intentionally designed the Neighbors Portal to ensure that users get to decide whether or not to voluntarily provide their videos to the police.”
In his letter to Markey, Huseman also clarified that Amazon let the police request up to 12 hours of Ring footage from any house that falls within a half-mile radius of a suspected crime scene from the past 45 days. Ring also states in its terms of service that users must ensure cameras aren’t recording video of areas outside their property, but Huseman told Markey that Ring didn’t “view users’ videos to verify compliance” with that policy.
“Connected doorbells are well on their way to becoming a mainstay of American households, and the lack of privacy and civil rights protections for innocent residents is nothing short of chilling,” Markey said in a statement.