Amazon has given ring footage to police without a warrant or owner’s consent

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(Photo: Ring)
Amazon, which owns the family security camera brand Ring, is distributing footage to law enforcement agencies without the warrant or consent of the camera owners.

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey sent a letter to the retail giant last month requesting that it agree to a batch of ethical reforms and “clarify the ring’s ever-expanding relationship with American police” with which the company has an increasingly close relationship, according to The Report. . Amazon responded to Markey’s July 1 letter. In an open letter, the company promised any of Markey’s proposed reforms, including never accepting financial contributions from police agencies and not allowing immigration enforcement agencies to request ring recordings. It has admitted to sharing camera footage of users with police 11 times without a warrant.

Some background is needed to sort out this problem. As we would otherwise say, Amazon’s frequent exchanges with law enforcement agencies are not particularly new. One year after the acquisition of the Amazon Home Security brand, civil rights groups have been urging government officials to investigate the ring’s close relationship with law enforcement agencies since 2019. Until its footage request policy changed last year, Ring has allowed hundreds of law enforcement agencies to make silent requests and access user footage without the need to consult with users. Although police have been forced to publicly request access to footage from actual users since the change, there are still ways law enforcement can completely avoid this polite process: including subpoena, court orders and search warrants.

(Photo: Aaron Dusset / Unsplash)

But even those so-called requirements are often overlooked, according to Brian Hussein, vice president of public policy at Amazon. It only takes “an urgent or urgent” situation to bypass the need for a subpoena, court order or warrant. Such situations have only been described by Amazon as involving “the imminent danger of a person’s death or serious bodily injury.” Indeed, the company declined to say in more detail how a situation determines whether it meets these conditions. However, it has responded to such emergencies with a sudden release of customer footage – which can depict the exterior. Or The interior of one’s home depends on how the camera is used.

“So far this year, Ring has only provided video to law enforcement 11 times in response to an urgent request,” Husseman wrote in a letter. “In each case, Ring has committed to an honest belief that there is an imminent danger of a person’s death or serious bodily injury for which information must be disclosed without delay.” No other details were given around the circumstances of each release.

Those who have already invested in a ring system may want to enable end-to-end encryption, Matthew Guariglia, policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told The Intercept. Users can do this in the Control Center section of the Ring app, which contains video encryption settings. (It is worth noting that one of Mark’s proposed reforms is the end-to-end encryption default setting, which Amazon refused to do.)

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