Amazon home security firm Ring has collaborated with more than 200 police departments all over the country, according to a report by Motherboard. It has been widely known that Ring has worked with law enforcement to which Motherboard reported on a contract between the company and a police department. Amazon has even used footages of suspected thieves to promote the products.
This news also highlights the scope of the relationship between the company and the police department. The ring has never disclosed the exact number of partnerships that it maintains with law enforcement. It is also possible that the number of partnerships has changed since the day the email was sent. Motherboard obtained notes from an officer given a webinar by Ring, according to the notes Ring will allow officers to request footage from owners through Ring.
While police repeatedly need consent from the owners, a warrant isn’t required. The notes say 200 agencies use the system. Amazon home security firm Ring claimed that the camera footage can’t be accessed directly by police.
The officer who sent the email told Motherboard that the email was a transcribed version of handwritten notes that he took during a team webinar with a Ring representative on April 9. Some additional emails obtained by Motherboard indicate that this webinar trained officers on how to use the “Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal.” Noe this portal allows the local police to see the maps along with the approximate locations of all Ring cameras in a neighborhood.
Plus request footage directly from camera owners. Owners need to consent, but police do not need a warrant to ask for footage. However, the email obtained by Motherboard was sent from the Waynesboro, Virginia Chief of Police to himself in an email with the subject line “Neighbors by RING notes.” The email ends with a name and phone number of a Ring Neighborhood’s Training Manager, who is responsible for communicating with police and training them on the use of Ring products. The email is dated April 16.
“This doesn’t surprise me at all, and it’s the perfect example of how corporate surveillance and government surveillance are inextricably linked,” Evan Greer, deputy director of digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future, told Motherboard on Monday.
Despite the repulsion from civil libertarians and some of its own employees. Amazon has taken an interest in working with law enforcement. Apart from Ring, the company also offers a facial recognition product, called Rekognition. The software has especially been provided to local law enforcement and even pitched to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But some researchers have questioned the accuracy of the tool, and many AI experts have urged the company to stop selling it to police.
Last week Motherboard reported that under some of these partnerships police departments were required to promote Ring in their local communities in exchange for earning credit toward free cameras.