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Sen. Markey Questions Amazon’s Use of Ring for Surveillance

June 17, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
Sen. Markey Questions Amazon’s Use of Ring for Surveillance
(Amazon photo)

WASHINGTON — Instead of peeping through a hole to see who is at the door, it’s more common for Americans to check their phone and see a video feed from their door when a package is dropped off, food is delivered or a visitor pops by.

As many different home surveillance cameras have cropped up on the market over the past few years, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is renewing his questions behind one tech giant’s willingness to give footage from those cameras, that overlook many neighborhood streets across the country, to local police. Markey sent a letter to the company this week asking about the camera’s abilities to record sound and motion at a distance.

“Since Ring has well over 10 million device users, it appears likely that Ring products record millions of Americans’ activity without their knowledge every day,” Markey wrote. “This surveillance system threatens the public in ways that go far beyond abstract privacy invasion: individuals may use Ring devices’ audio recordings to facilitate blackmail, stalking, and other damaging practices.”

“As Ring products capture significant amounts of audio on private and public property adjacent to dwellings with Ring doorbells—including recordings of conversations that people reasonably expect to be private— the public’s right to assemble, move, and converse without being tracked is at risk,” he wrote.

Markey began questioning the array of Ring’s surveillance in 2019 when the company began partnering with local law enforcement as part of its Neighbors Public Safety Service. The program has grown to an estimated 2,100 police departments now involved, he said.

Currently, thousands of law enforcement and fire departments across the country are part of the Neighbors Public Safety Service that can request videos, according to an agency map on Ring’s website.

Also, the number of requests law enforcement officials have requested has grown significantly.

From 2020 to 2021 the number of search warrants sent to Ring grew by 66% to 6,681 requests, according to the company.

“Ring will not release user information to law enforcement except in response to a valid and binding legal request properly served on us. Ring objects to legal requests it determines to be overbroad or inappropriate,” according to the company’s website.

In 2020 it totally fulfilled 830 of the 1,610 search warrants and partially fulfilled 146 others, according to its website.

The Well News reached out to both Ring and Amazon via multiple emails asking about the number of requests they responded to in 2021 or for comments about the senator’s letter. This article will be updated if there is a response.

 

Madeline can be reached by email at maddie@thewellnews.com or on Twitter @ByMaddieHughes

 

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