Letter continues Senator Markey’s multi-year efforts to limit Ring’s harmful surveillance practices and encourage engagement with civil liberties experts
Washington (June 14, 2022) — Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today sent a letter to Amazon, Ring’s parent company, to address ongoing issues with privacy breaches and sharing data with the police. In the letter, Senator Markey asks Amazon to provide a public update on Ring’s actions to remove private law enforcement agencies from its Neighbors Public Safety Service (NPSS), reduce the risk of misuse of its products in a harmful manner and to protect individuals. ‘ right to privacy. The letter marks the most recent Ring surveillance action by Senator Markey, who successfully lobbied the CCTV company to change its policies to address overwatch, surveillance and bias.
“[Ring’s] The surveillance system threatens the public in ways that go far beyond the abstract invasion of privacy: individuals can use audio recordings from Ring devices to facilitate blackmail, harassment, and other harmful practices », wrote Senator Markey. “As Ring products capture significant amounts of audio on private and public properties adjacent to homes equipped with Ring Doorbells, including recordings of conversations that people reasonably expect to be private, the public’s right to assemble, to move and converse without being followed is threatened.
A copy of the letter is available HERE.
Senator Markey’s questions to Amazon CEO Andrew Jassy include:
- To the best of Ring’s knowledge, how far can Ring products capture audio?
- Will Ring commit to eliminating Ring Doorbells’ default setting of automatically recording audio when video is recorded? If not, why not?
- Will Ring commit to never integrating voice recognition technology into its products? If not, why not?
- Ring has pledged to “try to integrate” non-law enforcement agencies onto the NPSS platform in order to combat over-policing. Please detail how many of each of the following entities use NPSS:
- Police departments
- Public health agencies
- Animal services
- Agencies that primarily deal with homelessness, addictions, or mental health
- Ring has “imposed a moratorium” on integrating private police agencies into the NPSS.
- Please identify all private agencies currently on the NPSS.
- Will Ring commit to extending this “moratorium” into an indefinite ban on all NPSS private police agencies? If not, why not?
In 2019, Senator Markey sent two letters to Amazon raising concerns that integrating Ring’s cameras with law enforcement could create a surveillance network that contributes to invasive policing. Senator Markey called on Ring to launch a proactive review of its engagement with police in consultation with outside experts. Subsequently, Ring partnered with the Police Project at New York University Law School to conduct an audit related to over-surveillance, scrutiny, and bias associated with Ring products. Amazon’s responses to Senator Markey’s first and second letters can be found HERE (September 2019) and HERE (November 2019).
Ring has since adopted measures that address Senator Markey’s concerns, including:
- Updated its consent prompt to more clearly express that users can decide whether or not to share images.
- Commit to imposing a moratorium on police recruitment on the Neighbors public service portal (the user footage request platform); stop donations to police departments; and ending the practice of actively reporting incidents posted on its social media to law enforcement.
- Commit to addressing how its platform can amplify bias by limiting the types of incidents users can post to their social network and suspending or banning users with a history of problematic content.