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To prevent your police department from partnering with Ring



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Ring works with law enforcement agencies in the US to build digital neighborhood surveillance groups with its smart doorbells and outdoor surveillance cameras. Do you think that's a good or a bad thing? Tell me in the comments below.


Chris Monroe / CNET

Ring, which sells video doorbells, outdoor cameras, and other security devices, also offers a neighbor app called the "New Neighborhood Watch." While the Neighbor app is voluntary, some people, communities and stakeholders have expressed concerns as Ring, which is owned by Amazon, uses data from the app as part of its partnerships with law enforcement agencies – particularly with regard to privacy issues.

The Neighbor app connects residents to help them find lost pets, display crime reports in the area, share details of theft, or whatever people think is "suspicious activity".

Police stations log into Ring and can then view posts in the Neighbors app. You can also ask Ring if neighbor users are willing to share video clips in a particular area for a certain period of time. Neighbor app users do not need to share their footage and their device and account information is not shared with law enforcement agencies.

There are 601 partnerships between Ring and Police Offices in the US, all of which are displayed on a Google-maintained and updated Google map.

Ring Cameras and the Neighbor App can and afford help elucidate criminal offenses. A bell in Edgewood, Washington, caught two women stealing parcels in June. The items were later returned by the women who had taken them away after ring material was shared on social media and on television. Salt Lake City police identified a suspect in a package theft in August after a ring client shared a video clip on the Neighbor app.

"Anything we can use to figure out how a crime was committed, maybe who committed the crime where the crime was committed – all these are things that are important to our case," said Keith Horrocks Information Officer with the Salt Lake City Police, who partnered with Ring in June. "Video is essential." .png “/>

Ring maintains 601 partnerships with police departments in the United States.


Ring / screenshot of CNET

However, Ring's Digital Neighborhood Watch has another page that raises concerns about privacy and racial profiling. Nonprofit organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Fight for the Future (FFTF) say that partnerships like these should be scrutinized for privacy.

"Amazon is building a privately owned, for-profit surveillance state – and they are causing the local police to market it to VIP access to Amazon's on-demand monitoring system," the FFTF wrote in September. 19659016] Petition requesting mayors and other locally elected officials to end Ring's partnership with the police.

Founded by progressive politicians Tiffiniy Cheng and Holmes Wilson, the FFTF has 2.4 million members. So far, around 20,000 people have signed their petition.

"Home security cameras have been around for decades, and local police have long used the practice of asking residents for voluntary information, including any video footage, to help police investigate, educate and prevent crime," said one Ring announcer said in an e-mail statement.

These concerns have not shaken the rapid rise of video doorbells. This can be a convenient way to keep an eye on your garden. According to market researcher Strategy Analytics, smart doorbells are the fastest growing segment of the surveillance camera industry. By 2023, spending is expected to reach $ 1.4 billion. According to IHS, Ring, which Amazon bought in February 2018 for $ 839 million, had a market share of 68% in the United States in 2018.

However, if you have concerns, you can take steps to protect the privacy of your neighborhood.

Protection of neighborhoods or privacy risk?

Given that police departments would have to issue a warrant for putting cameras on private property, interest groups such as the ACLU and the FFTF see partnerships such as those between Ring and The local police help to circumvent the rule, and voices concerns about storage and use of the footage by the law enforcement agencies.

"These partnerships threaten the fundamental rights of everyone, from someone leading their dog to a mother playing with their children in their backyard," the FFTF said in its petition.

The Amazon company does not manage how law enforcement agencies use ring camera images so that police can perform their own face recognition searches or exchange images with other law enforcement agencies as soon as they receive it.

According to Ring, the company does not plan to use Amazon's recognition software, Rekognition, to create a face recognition database associated with law enforcement agencies in the Ring app. Ring has considered equipping its cameras with facial recognition technology, and in 2018 filed two patents to extend the software with this feature.

Interested Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, stated that he should inquire how that of Ring material provided to law enforcement agencies could be used by the local police department to ask them to partner with Amazon.

The police are under no legal obligation to notify you that they have a partnership with Ring or how they can use the resulting footage.

"The back-end capabilities of the neighboring portal should not be shared with the public, including the desktop view law enforcement portal, the heatmap, sample video request emails, or the video request process itself, as they often contain sensitive discovery information . " A Ring representative emailed the Bensenville Police Department, Ill., In July, according to Freedom of Information Act documents sent to privacy researcher Shreyas Gandlur.

You can also file a public file to find out if there is an agreement, or check this card to see if there is already a ring-police partnership in your town.

CCOPS Laws

Crockford also says that some communities are looking for ways to end a partnership between the ring and law enforcement agencies. You can do this by applying Community Control Over Police Surveillance (CCOPS) laws.

CCOPS laws are local ordinances issued by city councils that give communities a voice on whether police can procure and deploy new surveillance technologies. The ACLU developed the model for CCOPS laws and works with other nonprofit partners, including the FFTF, to inform communities about the CCOPS regulation and to take action to prevent partnerships such as ring-fencing and law enforcement.

"As communities begin discussions with their democratically elected leaders to discuss the importance of civilian law enforcement oversight and public interest in maintaining sound data protection rights in the 21st century, Crockford said," It's not just To hear this from legislators, but also responsible police departments and the leadership of these responsible police departments. "

The City Council of Cambridge, Massachusetts, adopted a CCOPS Act back in December 2018 with the support of the ACLU and other partners, and the CCOPS laws apply retrospectively to all technologies that are already in use Potential to halt or reverse the emergence of a partnership, this map shows that at least 12 cities have passed the CCOPS laws in the last three years and 18 other cities are currently working to adopt them, with California and Maine still working CCPP Laws Accepting Nationwide CCOPS Legislation

Reaching Government Officials

Even though there is a partnership between the ring and law enforcement agencies, your local government may not be aware of this, Crockford said Residents can request a hearing to discuss the issue To discuss their community, ask the police chief to discuss and how to explain your concerns, including the question of why you may not want a partnership between Ring and the police in your area.

Crockford also suggests learning more about how your local government is working to determine who is in charge and making "binding" decisions about how the police work. "The extent to which different parts of the local government oversee the police varies from one community to another," explains Crockford.

Even though your city council is aware of an existing partnership between the ring and law enforcement agencies, according to Evan Greer, deputy director of the FFTF, you may request that your city council reconsider the agreement and work to reverse it. "Your city council has the responsibility to protect its citizens' basic rights, privacy and civil liberties, and with sufficient pressure local elected officials must respond," says Greer.

Greer recommends that local police departments ask specific questions about their capture, storage, and use of the ring footage and contact government officials at state and federal levels.

"Legislators can pass laws that govern how ring cameras can collect or even prohibit data altogether Lawmakers at Congress may initiate investigations into Amazon's surveillance-based business model or subsidize law enforcement authorities who deny federal subsidies subsidize Amazon Products, "adds Greer.

You can also add your name to the "Fight for the Future" petition.

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