NEW YORK – Amazon Inc’s camera unit, Ring, is planning to make police requests for users’ video footage through its neighborhood watch app more transparent, the company said, a move that follows criticism that its products facilitate surveillance and profiling.
Public safety agencies such as police and fire departments now must request material from their communities through a new, publicly viewable type of post on the Neighbors app, Ring said in a blog.
Previously, Ring device owners would receive private messages from the app on behalf of police looking for videos.
Ring is a smart security device company whose video doorbell product allows users to see and record people who approach their doorsteps, deterring theft and allowing them to monitor around their homes. It was bought by e-commerce giant Amazon in 2018.Its devices and its social app, which allows users to share and discuss the surveillance footage captured through their cameras, have been met with concerns from lawmakers and civil rights groups over privacy and racial profiling.
Ring’s partnerships with U.S. law enforcement agencies have drawn particular attention. Hundreds of police and fire departments have joined the Neighbors app, according to Ring’s active agencytracker.