The video doorbell company Ring has announced that it’s now working with more than 400 US police departments to streamline their access to user videos.
Ring, which is owned by Amazon, says the partnerships with law enforcement agencies will allow police to post important safety information and view and comment on public posts to a Ring-operated portal. The partnership will allow police the ability to submit requests for video recordings for certain locations in an effort to help with active investigations.
Naturally, the announcement is being met with concern by privacy advocates that say the partnerships threaten to create a 24/7 surveillance program that guarantees that “big brother” is always watching.
Matthew Guariglia, a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for civil liberties in the digital world called the partnership nothing but a wide spread surveillance system.
“It is essentially a widespread CCTV network in which police and Amazon … have access to cameras across the city on everybody’s front doors,” he said.
According to CNN, Ring is generally referred to as a “smart” doorbell with a camera pointed outside the front door. However, its technology is also used to send a push alert and video to a resident’s phone when there is movement on the camera.
That video can be posted on the Neighbors app, which functions as a social media site for certain neighborhoods, like NextDoor. The app allows people in a neighborhood to post information and video about area news or possible crime, and Ring says this makes people safer. The new partnership will now allow law enforcement agencies easier access to these sites as well.
The partnerships let police request the video recorded by homeowners’ cameras within a specific time and area, helping officers see footage from the company’s millions of Internet-connected cameras installed nationwide, the company said, according to the Washington Post.
Officers won’t receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email thanking them for “making your neighborhood a safer place.