Author: Caroline Haskins
The Ring video doorbell, mounted next to the front door of a house.
Ring [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Ring, Amazon’s home surveillance company, is teaching police how to convince residents to share camera footage with them.
When police partner with Ring, Amazon’s home surveillance camera company, they get access to the “Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal,” an interactive map that allows officers to request footage directly from camera owners. Police don’t need a warrant to request this footage, but they do need permission from camera owners.
Emails and documents obtained by Motherboard reveal that people aren’t always willing to provide police with their Ring camera footage. However, Ring works with law enforcement and gives them advice on how to persuade people to give them footage.
Emails obtained from police department in Maywood, NJ—and emails from the police department of Bloomfield, NJ, which were also posted by Wired—show that Ring coaches police on how to obtain footage. The company provides cops with templates for requesting footage, which they do not need a court warrant to do. Ring suggests cops post often on Neighbors, Ring’s free “neighborhood watch” app, where Ring camera owners have the option of sharing their camera footage.
"I have noticed you have been posting alerts and receiving feedback from the community,” a Ring representative told Bloomfield police. “You are doing a great job interacting with them and that will be critical in increasing the opt-in rate.”
“The more users you have, the more useful the information you can collect,” the representative added.
“Seems like you wasted no time sending out your video Request out to Ring Users which is awesome!!” a Ring “Partner Success Associate” told Maywood police.
As reported by GovTech on Friday, police can request Ring camera footage directly from Amazon, even if a Ring customer denies to provide police with the footage. It's a workaround that allows police to essentially "subpoena" anything captured on Ring cameras.
"Ring will not release customer information in response to government demands without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us," a Ring spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. "Ring objects to over-broad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course. We are working with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office to ensure this is understood."
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