Ring, Amazon's cloud-connected home surveillance system, is changing the way law enforcement agencies request footage from individuals to be more transparent to the public.
Law enforcement agencies will no longer be able to target and reach out to specific Ring device owners beginning next week, the company said today. Instead, police who are seeking footage from Ring users will instead have to post a "request for assistance" on the Neighbors app, which both individuals and law enforcement can access.
"All Request for Assistance posts will be publicly viewable in the Neighbors feed, and logged on the agency's public profile," Ring said. "This way, anyone interested in knowing more about how their police agency is using Request for Assistance posts can simply visit the agency's profile and see the post history." Only verified law enforcement users will be able to post such requests.
Ring currently has partnerships with more than 1,800 police and sheriff departments around the country. These partnerships have been controversial, both for the secretive ways in which some of them were launched and for the disproportionate impact surveillance tends to have on people and communities of color.
In February 2020, amid criticisms over how it handled privacy and user data, Amazon began allowing individual users to opt out of receiving requests from law enforcement to share Ring camera footage.