Amazon hands over Ring video to police without user’s permission

According to an ongoing investigation, Amazon’s Ring has turned over doorbell recordings to police 11 times this year without the owner’s consent.

Amazon Ring has repeatedly released doorbell recordings of its users to law enforcement without their consent, according to new findings from an ongoing investigation by a U.S. senator.

In June, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey wrote a letter to Amazon asking for information on how Ring plans to address ongoing privacy and data-sharing issues with police departments. FoxBusiness reports.

Ring says it will not release customer information to law enforcement without consent, a warrant, or “urgent or extraordinary” circumstances.

The home security company told Markey in a letter dated July 1 that it provided personnel to law enforcement 11 times this year in response to emergency requests for information.

“In each case, Ring determined in good faith that there was an imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury to the individual requesting immediate disclosure,” Amazon vice president of public policy Brian Hasman wrote.

Ring currently has 2,161 law enforcement agencies and 455 fire departments registered with the Neighborhood Public Safety Service (NPSS), a platform that allows Ring users to share suspicious videos captured by their devices.

According to Marca’s office, this figure represents more than a fivefold increase in law enforcement partnerships with Ring since November 2019.

“As my ongoing investigation into Amazon shows, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to move, gather and communicate in public without being tracked and recorded,” Marca said in a statement.

“We cannot consider this inevitable in our country,” he continued.

“The growing law enforcement reliance on private surveillance is creating an accountability crisis, and I am particularly concerned that biometric surveillance could become the centerpiece of a growing network of surveillance systems that Amazon and other powerful technology companies are responsible for.”

Markey criticized Ring’s response letter for failing to clarify the distance from which its products can record audio.

In its letter, Ring said that the audio capture capabilities of its products “depend on many conditions, including device placement and environmental conditions.”

“While our customers expect audio capabilities, they also have the option to turn off device audio features with a simple toggle in the Ring app’s privacy settings,” Hasman said.

In addition, Markey criticized Ring for not committing to remove the default setting for doorbells, which is automatic audio recording, and make end-to-end encryption the default storage option for consumers.

Husman argued that changing the default setting to not record audio could potentially create a negative experience for customers, making it impossible for them to hear audio during an emergency.

In addition, he stressed that end-to-end encryption “may not be appropriate” for all Ring customers and that the company aims to give its customers control over whether to enable the feature.

“Ring is constantly improving our products and services to improve customer control, and we remain committed to protecting customer privacy and security,” the letter said.

The disclosure comes after Markey called on Congress to pass the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act.

The bill would ban biometric surveillance by the federal government without “explicit statutory authorization” and withhold certain federal public safety grants from state and local governments that engage in biometric surveillance.

This story originally appeared on FoxBusiness and has been reproduced with permission.

Originally published as Amazon’s Ring shares footage with police without owner’s consent