Amazon teams up with the cops to spy
Amazon's doorbell camera Ring is working with police – and controlling what they say
Ring shapes communications of police agencies it works with. Critics fear it’s building up a for-profit private surveillance network#^Doorbell-camera firm Ring teams with 400 police forces, extending surveillance reach
The doorbell-camera company Ring has quietly forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them potential access to homeowners' camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls the nation's "new neighborhood watch."
The partnerships let police automatically request the video recorded by homeowners' cameras within a specific time and area, helping officers see footage from the company's millions of Internet-connected cameras installed nationwide, the company said. Officers don't receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email, thanking them for "making your neighborhood a safer place."
The number of police deals, which has not previously been reported, is likely to fuel broader questions about privacy, surveillance and the expanding reach of tech giants and local police. The rapid growth of the program, which began in spring 2018, surprised some civil liberties advocates, who thought that fewer than 300 agencies had signed on.
Ring is owned by Amazon, which bought the firm last year for more than $800 million, financial filings show. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
Ring officials and law-enforcement partners portray the vast camera network as an irrepressible shield for neighborhoods, saying it can assist police investigators and protect homes from criminals, intruders and thieves.
"The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer," said Eric Kuhn, the general manager of Neighbors, Ring's crime-focused companion app. "We've had a lot of success in terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly."
But legal experts and privacy advocates have voiced alarm about the company's eyes-everywhere ambitions and increasingly...