Amazon has handed over 11 Ring doorbell videos to police without owners' consent so far this year, report finds

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Amazon has handed over 11 Ring doorbell videos to police without owners' consent so far this year, report finds
Amazon's Ring doorbell has been at the center of multiple privacy controversiesSteve Marcus/Reuters
  • Amazon gave police 11 Ring doorbell videos without consent in 2022 so far, per a US Senator probe.
  • It shares videos after determining there is "imminent danger of death or serious physical injury."
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In the first six months of 2022 Amazon shared 11 Ring doorbell videos with law enforcement without first receiving consent from the owner, a probe into the technology by US Senator Ed Markey found.

In each of the 11 instances, Amazon's vice president of public policy Brian Huseman said that Ring "made a good-faith determination that there was an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person."

Ring's video sharing was in response to emergency disclosure requests filed by law enforcement agencies in the US.

The company's Neighbors Public Safety Service currently has partnerships with 2,161 law enforcement agencies and over 450 fire departments, Huseman said. That's more than five times growth in partnerships with police forces since November 2019, when Markey's investigation logged relationships with over 400 departments.

"It has become increasingly difficult for the public to move, assemble, and converse in public without being tracked and recorded. We cannot accept this as inevitable," Markey said.

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In 2021, Markey was one of five US senators to re-introduce legislation aimed at banning government use of biometric technology, out of concerns for privacy and civil rights.

In 2020, an Amazon engineer called for the smart doorbell and home security system to be "shut down immediately" due to privacy issues. The company has also faced controversy over four employees having abused their access to owners' home footage.

Amazon is not considering making end-to-end encryption of Ring videos and recordings the default setting for users, rather than an opt-in setting, it said. By encrypting its service end-to-end, Amazon and Ring would not have access to user videos.

Huseman added: "We will continue to prioritize privacy, security, and user control as we pursue and improve technologies to help achieve our mission of making neighborhoods safer."

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