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Ring drops feature allowing police to request doorbell camera footage from users
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ring drops feature allowing police to request doorbell camera footage from users

Amazon's Ring announced in a blog post on Wednesday that it will no longer allow law enforcement to request video footage from its users.

The doorbell and security camera company stated that it is "sunsetting the Request for Assistance (RFA) tool," which allows police and fire departments to "request and receive video" in its Neighbors app. Ring noted that public safety agencies can still use the app to share updates and safety tips with the community.

"Public safety agency posts are still public, and will be available for users to view on the Neighbors app feed and on the agency's profile," the company noted.

It is unclear why the company has decided to put an end to the feature. However, privacy watchdogs and anti-police activists have repeatedly expressed concerns about the company's partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the nation.

In a Wednesday statement, Matthew Guariglia, a senior policy analyst with the digital privacy nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, "Now, Ring hopefully will altogether be out of the business of platforming casual and warrantless police requests for footage to its users."

The EFF believes that Ring can still be doing more to protect its customers' privacy, including enabling their camera devices to be "encrypted end-to-end by default and turn off default audio collection."

Evan Greer with the digital rights organization Fight for the Future called the end of the feature a "victory for the coalition of racial justice and human rights advocates," CNN reported.

"That said, this move only scratches the surface of addressing the harm done by Ring's dystopian business model," Greer claimed.

While supporters celebrate Ring's decision to prevent police from requesting users' videos, critics fear the move is a major victory for thieves, making it more difficult for law enforcement to gather evidence.

In 2021, Ring altered the Neighbors app policy to make police requests for footage publicly visible following pressure from digital rights groups. Law enforcement departments were previously able to send users a private email requesting the video footage.

Police can still access Ring video footage by obtaining a search warrant. Additionally, Ring maintains the right to provide video footage to law enforcement without a warrant in emergency situations. The company admitted to handing over videos to police 11 times by mid-2022 without notifying its users.

In May 2023, Ring reached a $5.8 million settlement with the United States Federal Trade Commission over privacy concerns. According to the FCC, the company allowed employees unrestricted access to users' video data.

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