Amazon’s Ring will stop allowing police to request doorbell video footage from users; ‘a step in the right direction,’ says Logan Elia, partner and litigation attorney at Rose Law Group

By Annie Palmer | CNBC

Amazon’s Ring will no longer allow police to request users’ doorbell video footage in its neighborhood watch app.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Ring said this week it plans to discontinue its “Request for Assistance” tool, which allowed law enforcement to submit requests for users’ footage in their communities through a publicly accessible post in its Neighbors app.

“Public safety agencies like fire and police departments can still use the Neighbors app to share helpful safety tips, updates, and community events,” Eric Kuhn, head of Neighbors, wrote in the post. “They will no longer be able to use the RFA tool to request and receive video in the app.”

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“Ring’s decision to require law enforcement to formally request access to camera footage is a step in the right direction. Nothing in this action prevents law enforcement from requesting camera footage directly from the citizens who own the cameras. It just requires that if law enforcement lacks the camera owner’s consent, they must demonstrate cause for their request in front of a court. As a practical matter, this is a low bar. There is undeniably convenience associated with having cameras at your house. But is also raises privacy concerns. I recommend that consumers support companies that respect their customers’ privacy and do not require their customers to waive their Constitutional rights – especially when many customers are unaware of the waiver. Ideally, Ring should take this one step further by automatically encrypting customers’ videos stored on the cloud.’

“Companies should default to the assumption that their customers value privacy, not to the assumption that their customers wish to unknowingly share all of their information with the government. Ideally, the law will catch up to technology one day and the information captured with our personal electronics will be afforded the same respect and protections as information written on paper with quill pens.” -Logan Elia, partner and litigation attorney at Rose Law Group

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