Amazon, the online retail giant, has confirmed that it has handed over camera footage of Ring doorbell to police at least 11 times this year without a search warrant or owner’s knowledge, according to a disclosure shared Wednesday by US Senator Ed Markey.
The disclosure came in a letter Amazon’s Vice President of Public Policy, Brian Huseman, sent to Markey on July 1, 2022, in response to a letter he sent in the month of June, questioning Ring’s ongoing surveillance practices and involvement in law enforcement. were drawn.
Huseman said the shipping giant would not permanently agree to “never accept financial contributions from police stations; never allow immigration authorities to request Ring withdrawals and never participate in police operations.”
Ring has previously stated that it will not share customer camera footage with law enforcement agencies without permission, a warrant or due to “an urgent or emergency” circumstance. However, it said that in “emergency situations” Ring can hand over images without the owner’s permission.
Huseman stated in the July 1 letter that Ring had provided 11 videos to law enforcement in response to an emergency request after a “good faith determination” about risks. However, the letter does not disclose which videos were shared with police.
“In any event, Ring has made a good faith determination that there was an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm to any person, requiring information to be disclosed without undue delay,” he said.
Huseman noted that Ring “reserves the right to promptly respond to urgent requests for information from law enforcement agencies,” adding that the company decides when it’s appropriate to share video footage without user consent based on the information described. by law enforcement agencies and information given in an emergency request form.
This is the first time the company has confirmed that it has actually turned over the CCTV footage to law enforcement agencies because of that condition.
Amazon also revealed that 2,161 law enforcement agencies have access to the Neighbors Public Safety Service (NPSS), a platform where residents share suspicious videos captured by their doorbell security cameras. Participating law firms can use the app to send alerts and request CCTV footage from Ring users.
According to Markey, the number of agencies using the app has increased fivefold since November 2019. He claimed that using surveillance without the owner’s consent raises privacy concerns.
“As my ongoing research on Amazon shows, it has become increasingly difficult for the public to move, gather and talk in public without being tracked and recorded,” said Markey.
“We cannot see this as inevitable in our country. Law enforcement’s increasing reliance on private surveillance is creating a liability crisis, and I’m particularly concerned that biometric surveillance could be at the center of the growing web of surveillance systems that Amazon and other powerful tech companies are responsible for,” he added.
“I will continue to monitor these harmful business practices. In the meantime, Congress must pass the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act to prevent law enforcement officers from accessing sensitive information about our faces, voices and bodies.”
Markey further encouraged Congress to pass the Facial Recognition and Bimetric Technology Moratorium Act to prohibit the police from retrieving sensitive customer information.