Amazon has provided Ring doorbell footage to law enforcement 11 times this year without the user’s permission, a revelation that’s bound to raise more privacy and civil liberty concerns about its video-sharing agreements with police departments across the country.
The disclosure came in a letter from the company that was made public Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who sent a separate letter to Amazon last month questioning Ring’s surveillance practices and engagement with law enforcement.
Ring has said before it will not share customer information with police without consent, a warrant or due to “an exigent or emergency” circumstance. The 11 videos shared this year fell under the emergency provision, Amazon’s letter said, the first time the company publicly shared such information. The letter, dated July 1, did not say which videos were shared with police.
Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy, wrote in the letter that in each instance, “Ring made a good-faith determination that there was an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person requiring disclosure of information without delay.”
In such cases, Huseman wrote Ring “reserves the right to respond immediately to urgent law enforcement requests for information,” adding the company makes a determination as to when to share video footage without user consent based on information provided to it in an emergency request form and circumstances described by law enforcement.
Some prior requests from law enforcement have raised concerns about how police might be attempting to use Ring footage. Last year, the non-profit digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation reported the Los Angeles Police Department requested Ring footage of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
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