Amazon has used a company policy that allows it to send Ring doorbell surveillance footage to police without customer consent 11 times so far this year, citing the presence of imminent danger, a a company official said in a letter to a US senator this month.
The videos were leaked in instances where “imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm to a person” was present, Amazon vice president of public policy Brian Huseman wrote in the letter to Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., on July 1.
The letter says Amazon will not share customer information without consent or a warrant, except in a “demanding or urgent” circumstance, which allows the company to release the information or images after the The company was alerted to the incident via an emergency request. form.
“In each case, Ring has determined in good faith that there is an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person requiring the disclosure of information without delay,” Huseman wrote in the letter.
A spokesperson for Ring told USA TODAY the company couldn’t go into specifics about the 11 cases, but said legally, Ring can give information to the government if the company thinks someone is in life-threatening danger. or serious physical injury, such as kidnapping or attempted murder. .
Discussions between the company and the Massachusetts senator began in September 2019when Markey said the company was sending suggestive language to pressure users into consenting to release doorbell footage to authorities.
“If you want to take direct action to make your neighborhood safer, this is a great opportunity,” Markey wrote at the time, citing Ring and Amazon via The Washington Post.
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Markey and the e-commerce company have exchanged a series of letters since the start of the discussion in 2019.
In his July 1 response, Huseman appeared to assert that officials’ image requests do not contribute to over-policing of low-level violations, citing an audit conducted by the University of New York’s law school program. York called The Policing Project.
Police requesting home security footage from Ring “is not the type of continuous, massive, directly accessible surveillance that concerns us most,” the audit said.
“We intentionally designed these support requests to keep control in the hands of our customers, not the requesting agencies,” Huseman wrote. “Ring does not participate in police-operated camera registry programs, including programs that provide direct access to user devices.”
According to NYU’s audit, the most common requests were for images related to burglaries and thefts from vehicles, shootings, burglaries and robberies from homes, and stolen vehicles, he recalled.
More than 2,000 law enforcement agencies registered with Amazon’s Public Safety Department
Huseman wrote that Amazon has a Neighbors Public Safety Service (NPSS) that connects users to safety information, and as of July, 2,161 law enforcement agencies and 455 fire departments were registered.
He said all agencies that use the NPSS, where footage requests are made, have a public profile. Users can consult all publications and requests for information made by the agencies.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Markey said the privacy of Ring customers, their neighbors and the public is “at risk due to Amazon’s growing surveillance network and low-key collaboration with law enforcement agencies. order”.
“Congress needs to take action to rein in Big Tech, which always puts profit before privacy,” he said.
A Ring spokesperson said customer privacy, security and control are fundamental to Ring, and the company does not give anyone “unrestricted access to customer data or video.”
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She’s from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas and food. Follow her on Twitter at @Saleen_Martin or email him at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amazon can send a Ring video to the police without consent in an emergency