Amazon's Ring service may have 200 police department partnerships already
Amazon's Ring security service is reportedly working with 200 law enforcement agencies.
According to an email obtained by Motherboard, Ring has forged partnerships with law enforcement agencies, some of which require the agencies to advertise Ring home security services in exchange for free units and for access to an anonymized portal that lets them request security footage from users.
The email, which is dated April 16, reportedly contains notes taken during a Ring webinar by a police officer that claim 200 law enforcement agencies are using Ring's "Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal" -- which allows police departments to see the approximate locations of all Ring cameras nearby and to request footage from their owners.
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Those requests are facilitated by Ring and user consent is required in order for footage or information to be shared with law enforcement.
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"We’re proud of our partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the country, but have also taken care to design these partnerships in a way that keeps our users in control," a spokesperson for Ring told Fox News via email. "Every decision we make at Ring centers around privacy, security and user control."
The Jeff Bezos-led tech giant has faced a broad pushback from civil liberties advocates and racial justice groups over the potential for bias in its facial recognition products, and the partnerships the company has forged with law enforcement. Digital rights group Fight for the Future has compiled an interactive map that shows the breadth of Amazon Ring partnerships nationwide for the first time.
"It's time to recognize that Big Tech plus Big Government equals Big Brother. Police departments typically have to answer to city and state elected officials, who are supposed to provide oversight to ensure they're not abusing their power," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, in a statement to Fox News. "Amazon has found the perfect loophole: by entering into these partnerships with police they're building a privately-run, for-profit, surveillance dragnet without any real accountability."
Critics say that Amazon's Ring service is being used to pit neighbors against each other, so that they call the police frequently, and that it promotes racist stereotypes.
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“Given the reality of police violence, with impunity, impacting primarily people of color in the United States, these kinds of acts threaten the lives of third parties who are simply, in some cases, doing their jobs or living in their own neighborhoods,” Shahid Buttar, director of grassroots advocacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Motherboard. “These are life-threatening acts, using platforms as megaphones.”
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