Ring doorbell company admits providing videos to police without owner consent

A man is seen in a screen grab from a Ring doorbell video stealing a package from outside a home on Mallory Avenue in Jersey City.

Dave Eisenstadter


Ring, an electronic doorbell company owned by Amazon, admitted to providing video to law enforcement without consent of the device owner 11 times this year, according to Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey.

That revelation was one among several released by Markey’s office on Wednesday as a result of questions raised by the senator to the video security company, including that law enforcement agency requests for Ring footage increased five-fold since 2019 and that the company refused to answer several questions about the capacity of its devices.

“As my ongoing investigation into Amazon illustrates, it has become increasingly difficult for the public to move, assemble and converse in public without being tracked and recorded,” Markey said in a statement.

Markey urged passage of the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act, which he said would stop law enforcement from accessing facial, voice and other biometric data he classified as “sensitive.”

“We cannot accept this as inevitable in our country,” Markey said. “Increasing law enforcement reliance on private surveillance could become central to the growing web of surveillance systems that Amazon and other powerful tech companies are responsible for.”

The 11 times that videos were provided to law enforcement officials without user consent were a part of the company’s provision called “emergency circumstance exception,” according to Markey’s statement.

Ring disclosed that it now has partnerships with 2,161 law enforcement agencies which can request footage from Ring users, which Markey said was a five-fold increase from 2019.

Markey continued that the company would not commit to excluding facial recognition technology in its products and failed to clarify the distance from which Ring products can capture audio recordings. The company also would not commit to eliminating doorbells’ default setting of automatically recording audio or to make end-to-end encryption the default storage option for consumers, the statement said.

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