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Amazon's Ring pledges to make police requests public

Amazon's Ring pledges to make police requests public
© Getty

Amazon’s camera operation, Ring, announced Thursday that it is planning to make public any police requests for users' videos.

Public safety agencies will have to use a new post category on Ring’s neighborhood watch app Neighbors to ask for footage. The company said that posts in the category, called Request for Assistance, will be publicly viewable.

“All Request for Assistance posts will be publicly viewable in the Neighbors feed, and logged on the agency’s public profile,” Ring said in a blog post. “This way, anyone interested in knowing more about how their police agency is using Request for Assistance posts can simply visit the agency’s profile and see the post history.”

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The effort to add a layer of transparency comes on the heels of significant criticism of Ring’s work with law enforcement. Hundreds of police departments have partnered with Ring across the country to get potential access to footage for specific areas and times.

The move is also unlikely to assuage concerns about Ring cameras massively expanding the surveillance power of police.

“This policy shift does not change the fact that blanketing our neighborhoods in Amazon’s internet-connected cameras is fundamentally dangerous, exacerbates discrimination and racial profiling, and undermines community safety,” said Evan Greer, director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future. 

“And it doesn't prevent police partnered with Amazon from accessing footage en masse from Ring users via the ‘law enforcement neighborhoods portal.’ We can’t trust Amazon to get this right.”