Tag Archives: Ring

Amazon’s Ring Will Stop Allowing Police To Request Doorbell Footage From Users

Amazon’s Ring will no longer allow police to request users’ doorbell video footage in its neighborhood watch app, CNBC reported.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Ring said this week it plans to discontinue it’s “Request for Assistance” tool, which allowed law enforcement to submit requests for users footage in their communities through a publicly accessible post in its Neighbor’s app.

According to CNBC, Ring in 2021 made police requests for user footage public in its Neighbors app. Previously, law enforcement could message users privately to request clips from their smart doorbell cameras.

Police can still obtain Ring footage using a search warrant or a subpoena. In response to a 2022 letter from Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., questioning it’s police partnerships, the company disclosed that Ring may provide footage directly to law enforcement “in cases involving imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person.”

CNBC also reported that Ring has long sparked controversy about privacy due to its controversial partnerships with hundreds of police departments across the U.S. Privacy advocates have expressed concern that the program, and Ring’s accompanying Neighbors app, have heightened the risk of racial profiling and turned residents into informants, with few guardrails around how law enforcement can use the material.

Ring posted on its blog: “Ring Announces New Neighbors App Features, Sunsets Request for Assistance Post” Here is part of their post:

…We’ve all seen how Ring videos — whether heartwarming or silly — can bring us together to laugh, empathize or unite in a shared community. In 2023 alone, customers shared Ring moments with Neighbors, their social channels, and their friends more than a million times. Whether a bear relaxing in a pool, or a neighbor helping out with some shoveling, millions of people have found joy and hope in Ring posts.

Today, we’re announcing some changes to the Neighbors app based on what we’ve heard from our customers. We want to make it easier to continue to share moments that matter. That’s why we’re introducing Ring Moments, a new post category that expands the content allowed on the Neighbors app beyond just crime and safety…

…This week, we are also sunsetting the Request for Assistance (RFA) tool. Public safety agencies like fire and police departments can still use the Neighbors app to share helpful tips, updates, and community events. They will no longer be able to use the RFA tool to request and receive video in the app. Public safety agencies posts are still public, and will be available for users to view on the Neighbors app feed and on the agency profile.

The Guardian reported that civil liberties experts have long criticized Amazon’s close relationship with law enforcement and the company’s willingness to facilitate warrantless police investigations by allowing easy access to private security footage from people’s homes.

In response to the criticism, the company previously did away with the practice that allowed police to privately send requests for video footage to Ring users. Instead, police were only allowed to publicly post these requests on the app. Now, they can only obtain footage from Ring using a warrant.

In my opinion, this is a step in the right direction. More could be done, of course, like completely cutting off police from secretly gathering Ring footage from the devices.

Amazon Music and Ring still out of reach due AWS outage

It’s been a bad day for folks who wanted to chill with music, holiday tunes or not. At least if you’re were relying on Amazon Music to provide the tunes. It could be downright scary if you’re relying on Ring services, also owned by Amazon. Ring handles security and one business we spoke with noted that only nine of its 16 cameras were operational, those are the wired ones. The wireless are useless for the time being.

Both services operate under AWS, a high-end cloud-computing system that runs some of the largest systems in the world. Generally, it’s considered reliable and consistent. As of now, Amazon’s latest status update reads:

[2:04 PM PST] We have executed a mitigation which is showing significant recovery in the US-EAST-1 Region. We are continuing to closely monitor the health of the network devices and we expect to continue to make progress towards full recovery. We still do not have an ETA for full recovery at this time

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed.