By HALELUYA HADERO | The Associated Press
Amazon has provided Ring doorbell footage to law enforcement 11 times this year without the user’s permission, a revelation that is sure to raise more privacy and civil liberties concerns over its video-sharing agreements. with police departments across the country.
The disclosure came in a letter from the company that was made public on Wednesday by US Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts who sent a separate letter to Amazon last month questioning Ring’s surveillance practices and its commitment. with law enforcement.
Ring has previously said it will not share customer information with law enforcement without consent, a warrant, or due to an “emergency or emergency” circumstance. All 11 videos shared this year fell under the emergency provision, Amazon’s letter said, the first time the company has publicly shared such information. The letter, dated July 1, does not specify which videos were shared with police.
Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, wrote in the letter that in each case, “Ring has determined in good faith that there is an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person in need of disclosure of information without delay.”
In such cases, Huseman wrote that Ring “reserves the right to immediately respond to urgent requests for information from law enforcement,” adding that the company determines when to share video footage without user consent on the basis of the information provided to him in an emergency request form. and the circumstances described by law enforcement.
Some previous requests from law enforcement have raised concerns about how police might attempt to use Ring’s footage. Last year, the nonprofit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that the Los Angeles Police Department had requested Ring footage of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
In a statement, Markey’s office said the results show a close relationship between Ring and law enforcement and a proliferation of police using the platform.
Amazon said in its letter that 2,161 law enforcement agencies are registered with the Ring’s Neighbors app, a forum for residents to share suspicious videos captured by their home security cameras. That number represents a five-fold increase since November 2019, according to the senator’s office.
“As my ongoing investigation of Amazon illustrates, it has become increasingly difficult for the public to move around, congregate and converse in public without being tracked and recorded,” Markey said in a statement.
Among other things, the senator’s statement also criticized the company for not clarifying the distance at which Ring products can capture audio recordings. The company had said in its response letter that Ring was picking up “dependent on many conditions, including device placement and environmental conditions.”
Ring’s disclosure comes as Amazon faces broader antitrust scrutiny in Congress over its e-commerce business and accusations of undercutting merchants who sell on its platform by manufacturing “counterfeits,” or very similar products, and by strengthening their presence on its site. Markey and several other Democratic lawmakers are also pushing for a bill that bans the use of biometric technology by federal agencies and ties federal grant funding to states and localities on the condition that they impose a moratorium on the use of this technology.
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Post expires at 7:29pm on Thursday July 21st, 2022