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Ring no longer allowing police to request users’ doorbell video footage

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(The Hill) — Police and fire departments will no longer be able to request users’ doorbell video footage from the Amazon-owned Ring, the company announced.

Ring said in a blog post Wednesday that it will end its “Request for Assistance (RFA)” tool, meaning public safety agencies will no longer be able to request and receive video in its Neighbors app. The company did not provide a reason for the decision.

Eric Kuhn, the head of Neighbors, said in the blog post that public safety officials can still use Ring’s Neighbors app to share “helpful safety tips, updates and community events.”

The decision follows a flurry of criticism and concerns from privacy advocates over the feature and the company’s partnerships with hundreds of police departments across the country.

In 2021, Ring altered its policy to make police requests available to the public on its Neighbors app. In the past, law enforcement agencies could send a private email to Ring owners who lived near an investigation to request video footage from their doorbell cameras.

Law enforcement agencies will still be able to access videos with a search warrant while Ring has the right to share footage without users’ permission in limited circumstances, The Associated Press reported.

Amazon has paid millions of dollars to settle over alleged privacy violations involving the Ring doorbell since buying the California-based Ring in 2018.

In June of last year, Amazon agreed to pay $5.8 million in customer refunds after the Federal Trade Commission alleged Ring allowed employees and contractors access to users’ private videos and had lax security practices that allowed hackers easier access to accounts, the AP reported.

In 2022, Ring revealed in a letter to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that Amazon provided footage from the Ring video cameras to police without permission from owners or a court warrant 11 times that year.

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