Amazon restricts police access to videos from Ring cameras

Amazon restricts police access to videos from Ring cameras

Amazon announced Wednesday that law enforcement will no longer be able to ask people equipped with Ring cameras to send videos directly to them, a victory for human rights groups.

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Police and fire departments “will (continue to) be able to use the Neighbors application to share useful safety tips, information and events,” the American group said in a press release.

But “they will no longer be able to use the support request tool to request and receive videos in the application.”

Amazon markets a range of products under the Ring brand, ranging from doorbells with built-in cameras to alarms for doors and windows.

They allow you to remotely see and control what is happening outside your home, especially in the event of a delivery, package theft or break-in.

But certain uses of these cameras and neighborhood application have been a concern for associations that advocate for public freedoms and human rights, such as Fight for the Future, for years.

Its director Evan Greer hailed Amazon's decision as an “undeniable victory.”

“The ability for law enforcement to use the Neighbors app to request mass footage from camera owners has always been dangerous and has been proven to increase racial profiling,” she said.

Amazon made this announcement, among other things, by adding features typical of social networks to make it easier to share entertaining videos and photos, for example about mutual aid among neighbors or the appearance of wild animals.

According to Evan Greer, this press release “reveals Ring's true ambitions.” They imagine a world full of cheap cameras from Amazon, where people are constantly monitoring each other and sharing content, be it a beautiful moment or a violent crime.

The images “will always be accessible to police through other means, particularly in communities with a camera registry,” she stressed.

Last May, Amazon agreed to pay more than $30 million to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (FTC) to drop lawsuits against Ring and Alexa products over data breaches.

According to the FTC, Ring had provided all of the group's employees and hundreds of contractors in Ukraine access to all customer videos, “whether or not they needed it to perform their duties.”

“We cannot rely on Amazon to protect our personal information and civil rights. We need laws,” said Evan Greer.