Amazon.com Inc’s camera unit, Ring, is planning to make police requests for users’ video footage through its neighborhood watch app more transparent, the company said on Thursday, a move that follows criticism that its products facilitate surveillance and profiling.
Public safety agencies such as police and fire departments now must request material from their communities through a new, publicly viewable type of post on the Neighbors app, Ring said in a blog.
Previously, Ring device owners would receive private messages from the app on behalf of police looking for videos.
Ring is a smart security device company whose video doorbell product allows users to see and record people who approach their doorsteps, deterring theft and allowing them to monitor around their homes. It was bought by e-commerce giant Amazon in 2018.
According to information from Wikipedia, Ring LLC is a home security and smart home company owned by Amazon. Ring manufactures home security products that incorporate outdoor motion-detecting cameras, including Ring Video Doorbell.
It hosts an app, Neighbors, for online social sharing of captured footage among users. Ring also provides video footage from its cameras and data from its Neighbors app to law enforcement agencies on request.
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Its police partnerships have been criticized by civil rights advocacy groups as building an
Social apps focused on neighborhood safety have come under increasing scrutiny in recent months.
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Crowdsourced crime-tracking app Citizen was recently blasted for putting a $30,000 reward to find a man it wrongly said was an arson suspect.
The company has said it regrets the mistake and is working to improve its internal processes.
Citizen has also sparked controversy over what it said were internal tests for a service that would deploy rapid-response security personnel to app users in Los Angeles.
Ring had earlier stated that it had rules in place to prevent “overly broad requests” from agencies on the Neighbors app, such as needing a valid case number and limiting the time frame and area in a request.