Amazon has partnered with over 200 law enforcement agencies to use its Ring home surveillance system, report reveals
Amazon has partnered with 200 police departments across the U.S.The company is giving away its home surveillance cameras made by RingPolice distribute the devices to residents to establish surveillance networks The number of partnerships is one of the first official figures of the program
Hundreds of police departments across the U.S. have partnered with Amazon to use its brand of home security devices as local surveillance networks.
According to a report from Vice, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request detail at least 200 partnerships between Amazon’s security company Ring and local law enforcement agencies.
The number — taken from notes made in an email that were transcribed from a Ring representative — is the first hard piece of data on how many departments are working with the company.
Partnerships between Amazon and police departments are far more prolific than previously though according to a new report that details 200 collaborations across the U.S.
Previous attempts to quantify the extent of the collaboration have estimated around three dozen direct partnerships — a number that is clearly well below actual figures.
Partnerships between the agencies and Amazon usually involve the company donating its compact security cameras — which are often fixed to a person’s door — and then equipping them with a ‘neighborhood portal.’
The departments are also incentivized to promote the cameras to local residents with Amazon providing additional units for every person that downloads Ring’s app.
From a dashboard, law enforcement are reportedly able to geo-fence certain areas and then request Ring users for footage that they think may be valuable.
Prior reports from CNET suggest that departments have only given out cameras with the caveat that customers share information with law enforcement upon request.
While Ring’s cameras have been lauded by law enforcement as useful tools to help catch criminals in areas otherwise lacking adequate surveillance, privacy experts say that the marriage between law enforcement and one of the biggest companies in the world is something to be wary of.
Ring has gained popularity among users looking for an inexpensive and affordable way to surveil their homes.
Coupled with an increasingly sophisticated facial recognition software — another product offered by Amazon — critics say the camera footage could go leaps and bounds further as a tool for tracking people.
Ring has already considered integrating such software into their cameras last year — a move that generated backlash from privacy groups like the ACLU.
A major complaint by the ACLU and other organizations like it is that facial recognition software is tantamount to investigating subjects without probable cause — anyone within view of the software is swept up into its algorithm.
Already Ring cameras have been at the center of police operations that yielded less than desirable results.
An elaborate sting operation that was designed to apprehend thieves stealing packages — which was first revealed by Vice last month — resulted in no arrests.
The report did, however, shed light on the level of cooperation between law enforcement and Amazon, as both parties worked in tandem to coordinate a hypothetical public relations even in the event the sting was successful.
WHAT IS RING AND WHY DID AMAZON BUY IT?
Amazon acquired home security startup Ring for a reported £700 million ($1 billion).
The home security startup sells doorbells that capture video and audio.
Clips can be streamed on smartphones and other devices, while the doorbell even allows homeowners to remotely chat to those standing at their door.
Ring sells doorbells (left) that capture video and audio. Clips can be streamed on smartphones and other devices, while the doorbell even allows homeowners to remotely chat to those standing at their door
Ring promotes its gadgets as a way to catch package thieves, a nuisance that Amazon has been looking to remedy.
Amazon late last year unveiled its own smart lock and camera combination called Amazon Key in a move into home security.
Key is designed to provide a secure and trackable way for packages to be delivered inside homes when people aren’t there.
Amazon has bought home security startup Ring for a reported £700 million ($1 billion)
Ring’s doorbell could work well with Amazon Key, which lets delivery personnel put packages inside a home to avoid theft or, in the case of fresh food, spoiling.
California-based Ring first caught the spotlight with a failed quest for funding about five years ago on reality television show Shark Tank.
Ring went on to win backing from the likes of billionaire Richard Branson and Amazon’s Alexa Fund.