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Security & privacy

Ring privacy: Here’s how many video requests police and fire departments made last year

Footage captured by video doorbells could help police departments solve criminal cases. That’s the reasoning behind Amazon’s Ring network, which helps law enforcement in almost every state. Ring is partnered with over 2,000 police and fire departments across the U.S.

This partnership goes back to 2015 when Ring let the Los Angeles Police Department see how front-door footage could reduce property crimes. Since then, the Ring program exploded, spreading to cities across the nation.

Want to see if your local department may swing by for your footage? Tap or click here for an interactive map to see if your city has a partnership with Ring. Keep reading for details on how police are using Ring to catch criminals, along with the biggest concerns among privacy advocates.

Could this create a national surveillance network?

Back in 2018, Amazon bought Ring for $839 million. When Amazon took over, business with police started booming, especially once cops started joining the Neighbors app, through which users can share videos with others nearby.

Now, Ring’s partnership with law enforcement agencies is spreading faster than ever before. Just how often are Ring videos requested? According to Ring, departments requested security camera videos for more than 22,335 incidents last year alone.

Ring says this program helps police crack cases, but many people worry about civil liberties.

Although police can’t demand homeowners to surrender Ring footage without a warrant, they’ve created a loophole. Some police departments hand out Ring video doorbells for free — as long as you hand over footage whenever they ask.

Now, here’s how video requesting works. Police can send you a notification through your Ring app requesting permission to see your videos. They do this with a feature called “Video Requests.” Find out more about it in this video:

If you want to grant them permission, you can send over your footage. Remember, though: You have the option to say no.

You can opt out of this program through your app

First, change your privacy settings to avoid receiving future requests. Here’s how to adjust your settings:

  • Open the Ring app.
  • Open the settings menu by tapping the top left corner of the app.
  • Select Control Center.
  • Slide the toggle next to Video Requests to the left. This turns the feature off.
  • You’ll see a verification message. Tap Yes, Disable Now.

Now, the Video Requests feature is off. Remember that if you post videos on social media, law enforcement will be able to see them.

If you’re a Ring doorbell owner, there are even more settings you should change to maximize your privacy. This isn’t just to get the most from your security device; it’s also to ensure you’re not oversharing information that can be used against you. Tap or click here for three settings to change right now.

How successful is this partnership?

Since Amazon Ring has hit a record number of deals with law enforcement, you might think it’s a roaring success. Yet, a recent study from NBC News found little evidence of Amazon Ring fighting crime. None of the law enforcement agencies that spoke to NBC could provide data linking a drop in property crimes to their partnership with Ring.

Amazon also doesn’t share data on how Ring helps solve the tricky issue of package theft. Here’s a ray of good news, however. If you’ve ever dealt with thieves stealing your packages, you’ll like this. Tap or click here to watch a video of a homeowner using Ring to bust a porch pirate.

Tech makes life more convenient, and the Ring doorbell is a great way to get peace of mind. But many new advancements come with a privacy trade-off.

Amazon’s latest initiative, Sidewalk, sounds great on paper. If you own a compatible Ring device, you probably got an email saying you’ll join the program once it goes live, with a link to opt-out if you choose to.

Note: Sidewalk doesn’t work with Ring’s doorbells, just recent versions of the Floodlight Cam and Spotlight Cam. If you own a Ring, you probably got an email saying you’ve automatically joined the program.

But before you accept the automatic entry, you need to know the details. Tap or click to find out if Sidewalk is safe to use or something you should opt-out of right away.

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