Amazon’s ring has come across as a rather police-friendly surveillance subsidiary and has maintained its comfortable relation with law enforcement. Mainly, this was by specifying that cops could only gain access to the recordings of the camera owner with their consent or an order from the court. However, Amazon stated that it had provided police with footage about 11 times just this year without either, in response to Sen. Ed Markey.
In June, Markey enquired in a letter to Amazon about the clarification of the Ring’s extending relation with the US police. The police had grown to rely on the residential surveillance dragnet of Amazon, and committing to a raft of policy reforms. Ring clearly publicises its policy of giving camera footage only if the judge signs a warrant, or if the owner agrees. However, Amazon stated that it reserves the right to submit footage in ’emergencies,’ broadly defined as cases that involve ‘imminent danger of harm or death to anyone.’
Additionally, Markey had enquired of the retail giant for the clarification regarding to constitution of the word ’emergency.’ Alongside, he asked how many times that they provided these footages. The e-commerce declined to divulge into details beyond the danger explanation.
“Ring makes a good-faith determination whether the request meets the well-known standard.”
Policy analysts Matthew Guariglia stated how he encourages owners of Rings to enable end to end encryption if they currently are concerned about such access to their cameras. The company refused to make this a default setting after Markey urged Amazon to do so. Guariglia expressed his disturbance at how Ring continues to offer such footage despite the police not being the customers of Ring.
He further added that how the exception of ’emergency’ might be hypothetically warranted in the most crucial instances. However, he stated how the risks of ‘mission creep,’ and abuse by the police could always linger around.
“If there is the infrastructure, if there is the channel by which police can request footage without a warrant or consent of the user, under what circumstances they get it is out of our control. I worry that because it’s decided by the police and by somebody at Ring, there will be temptation to use that for increasingly less urgent situations.”
In a statement, Markey stated how believed that both Ring and Amazon had faced the loss of the benefit of doubt. This is in spite of their efforts which were in good faith.