It has been reported that at least 200 police departments from across the US have partnered with Ring, the video doorbell and home surveillance company owned by Amazon.
According to Motherboard, which claims to have seen notes written by a police officer during a webinar hosted by Ring, police departments can see a map with the approximate location of Ring cameras. They can then make a request directly to the camera owner to see footage recorded by the video doorbell.
The webinar was, the report claims, used to train officers on how to use the 'Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal', which allows them to see the location of Ring cameras, then request footage from their owners.
Police departments do not need a warrant to learn the location of the camera and ask its owner for access to footage, but it is up to owners to give consent after the request has been made. Additionally, while a warrant isn't required, the request for footage must relate to an active investigation, and police do not have direct access to the footage or live feeds from any Ring cameras.
This situation is similar to one where police officers looking at a potential crime scene, could notice a security camera attached to a nearby property, then ask the property owners if they could see footage recorded by that camera; the owner can then hand over the footage, or refuse if a warrant hasn't been issued. The different here is that Amazon is helping police departments by giving them the approximate location of Ring cameras, then providing a way for police officers to contact the owner.
Ring said in a statement: "Every decision we make at Ring centers around privacy, security and user control. While law enforcement partners can submit video requests for users in a given area when investigating an active case, Ring facilitates these requests and user consent is required in order for any footage or information to be shared. Law enforcement cannot see how many Ring users received the request, declined to share or opted-out of all future requests."
It was also recently reported that Ring has handed out free products to law enforcement agencies with which it has partnered. As part of this deal, Ring donates free doorbell cameras to police and provides them with access to the Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal. Some of these partnerships require the police to promote Ring products and services to their local communities, with Amazon giving police credits towards free Ring cameras for residents who sign up to Ring's app as a result of the promotion.
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