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Amazon reportedly aides police in gaining Ring footage without a warrant

By Cal Jeffrey · 22 replies
Aug 6, 2019
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  1. Update 8/8/2019: Amazon contacted TechSpot by email to clarify how it shares with law enforcement.

    "Ring will not release customer information in response to government demands without a valid and binding legal demand directed and addressed to Ring," the spokesperson said.

    Additionally, Amazon said that law enforcement cannot contact camera owners through the interactive map portal, but rather have to go through Ring.

    "The only way law enforcement can request footage in the portal is through the video request process, where they send a request to Ring," explained the spokesperson. "They do not have the ability to contact camera owners directly through Neighbors."

    When police departments sign up for Ring’s “Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal,” they get access to an interactive map that shows the locations of Ring cameras in a given region. On this map, they can click a camera and request to receive its footage. They do not need a warrant to do this, but the customer does have to agree to hand it over.

    According to emails obtained by Motherboard, Ring “Partner Success Associates” have been coaching law enforcement officers (LEO) on how to get users to agree to turn over footage.

    “I have noticed you have been posting alerts and receiving feedback from the community,” an email to a police office in Bloomfield, New Jersey read. “You are doing a great job interacting with them, and that will be critical in increasing the opt-in rate. The more users you have, the more useful the information you can collect.”

    The advisers claim that being active on social media also helps. Additionally, there is a Ring neighborhood watch app for citizens. Associates say that having LEO regularly posting in this app increases opt-in rates. Associates even provide templates that officers can use when requesting footage.

    If police are still having trouble retrieving video, they can get it directly through Ring without the user’s permission as reported by GovTech.

    The Fresno Police Department and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office have both recently partnered with Ring and received training on how to use the portal (video above). According to Public Information Officer Tony Botti with the Fresno Sheriff’s Office, citizens are usually receptive and cooperative to requests for video. However, when users refuse, officers can just bypass them.

    “If we ask within 60 days of the recording and as long as it’s been uploaded to the cloud, then Ring can take it out of the cloud and send it to us legally so that we can use it as part of our investigation,” said Botti.

    This can be done without a warrant because Ring’s policy is to comply with law enforcement requests. As to privacy Botti was dismissive.

    “I would say to anybody who thinks this is another case of Big Brother watching or us trying to invade privacy, go to step one: it took the consumer to invest in the product,” Botti told GovTech. “They chose to pay for a service that enables it to be viewed by either us or Ring. The consumer knows what they’re getting into...If you’re a good upstanding person who is doing things lawfully, nobody has concerns.”

    In other words, as long as you have nothing to hide, you should have no problem with the police violating your Fourth Amendment protections.

    Image credit: BrandonKleinVideo via Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,129   +1,635

    If the customer agrees to it, then there's no legal problem. In fact, I bet there are plenty of people who would feel a lot more secure if they knew police were monitoring their Ring cameras.
  3. Jeff Re

    Jeff Re TS Addict Posts: 160   +125

    Wow, it took you long enough to jump on this story but as was pointed out elsewhere by users this is simply police asking for help when there is a crime committed. Do you have footage and want to help? Good Lord we wouldn't want to catch criminals in our own neighborhood...
    Dimitrios and scavengerspc like this.
  4. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 767   +595

    Police also (will) have the same access to the cameras/microphones on your cell phone, your TVs, and "smart" devices, "smart" home devices, and your vehicles.

    ...which means hackers can gain the same access. If it's on the internet, the whole world can get to it.

    It's like paying someone to kick your own arse.
  5. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,010   +1,279

    Then why BOTHER asking for permission. If the client says no, they will take it anyway.
    "If police are still having trouble retrieving video, they can get it directly through Ring without the user’s permission as reported"
  6. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,010   +1,279

    I doubt they have a staff of people watching these 24/7. What it means, is AFTER a crime, they can use the footage to make a positive ID, and get a conviction.
    Shadowboxer and lumbeeman like this.
  7. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,782   +2,604

    And yet there's literally nothing in their agreement with Ring that prevents law enforcement from using your own video device for real-time surveillance. If there aren't implicit terms within the user agreement stating that your recorded video can be given to anyone for any reason then I expect a major class action soon. And it will totally justified.
    p51d007 likes this.
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,511   +3,901

    They might be able to get hold of the footage without the owners consent but any savvy Judge is going to ask to see the warrant before allowing the case to go forward. Of course, that doesn't mean the accused won't be stupid enough to give up their rights and sign off on a plea bargain without first reviewing the so called evidence ........ serves 'em right!
  9. zorven

    zorven TS Rookie

    In the Terms and Conditions:

    You also expressly consent and agree that Ring may share your Shared Content and related location information with any law enforcement agency that requests access to such Shared Content and related location information.
  10. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,125   +2,418

    I wonder if it will catch the monster under my bed? :laughing:
  11. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,094   +3,646

    By that logic, why do we have opaque walls at all. Better make completely transparent houses so the police can more easily catch any potential "baddies".

    There's this thing called the fourth amendment

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

    It is such an amazing twist to see some people bastardize the 2nd by misinterpreting it yet completely support the trampling of the 4rth. God forbid the police in this country justify the collection of personal data.
    PEnnn, lumbeeman, Lionvibez and 2 others like this.
  12. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,477   +644

    Totally agreed Jeff Re needs to be the first person to have a transparent house and ring to be installed. You will surely feel safe with everyone seeing what you are doing at all times in your own home cause you know "bad guys"
    Evernessince and ShagnWagn like this.
  13. hk2000

    hk2000 TS Booster Posts: 72   +30

    I see nothing wrong with that. look, If you worry about privacy, remember this rule: If it enters a connected device, it's public, simple as that.
  14. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,074   +4,081

    Only if it decides to get out from under the bed, go out the bedroom window, then knock on the front door.
    wiyosaya and Capaill like this.
  15. QuantumPhysics

    QuantumPhysics TS Evangelist Posts: 1,371   +1,007

    Add this to my list of spy devices I won't be buying for my home.
  16. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,613   +595

    Well that took about 5 seconds.... Getting closer and closer to minority report, all we need now are the psychics.
    "If you’re a good upstanding person who is doing things lawfully, nobody has concerns.”
    Yeah so why get searched without a warrant? Oh yeah the constitution.
  17. Shadowboxer

    Shadowboxer TS Addict Posts: 260   +113

    It feels like it’s only in America that your privacy ever gets considered. Right now in the U.K. if the police want anything of your data, from phone access or camera footage you may have you have to turn it over and if you don’t, you can be charged for “obstruction”. Most of the world has no digital rights.
  18. Bubbajim

    Bubbajim TechSpot Staff Posts: 692   +672

    It seems to me that many Americans argue about guns as though their country is half a step from apocalyptic, governmental tyranny. Then they argue about privacy like the government is benevolent and fair.

    I am confuse.
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,074   +4,081

    You shouldn't be. "The right to bear arms", and "the right to privacy", are intertwined.

    We run on the principle, "a man's home is his castle". In the same way you Brits never knew who Henry the VIII was banging on any given night, our constitution bestows that right on each and every citizen of the US. So, I suppose the moral of the story is, "god help you if you walk into an armed American's bedroom uninvited or without a warrant".
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    ShagnWagn likes this.
  20. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,125   +2,418

    Unfortunately, the team that wrote the user agreement forgot to employ a constitutional law scholar when they wrote this user agreement. Either that, or they had a member of law enforcement on their team yelling rah, rah, rah, go law enforcement. Like other instances where law enforcement has way overstepped their purview WRT modern technology, this will have to be taken to court - perhaps by an entity like the EFF.

    Why? Because by buying the product and using it, it could be argued that you automatically acquiesce to giving up your constitutional rights - which in and of itself is unconstitutional.
    Isn't that something that is normal for monsters to do? My monsters do that frequently! :laughing:
  21. Catweazle

    Catweazle TS Booster Posts: 78   +79

    “They chose to pay for a service that enables it to be viewed by either us or Ring. The consumer knows what they’re getting into...If you’re a good upstanding person who is doing things lawfully, nobody has concerns.”

    When parody becomes reality, almost word for word. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn0WdJx-Wkw
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,074   +4,081

    The thing nobody seems to realize is that the monsters under your bed are only monsters while they're still under the bed. When they come out and go to your door, they've already shapeshifted into Jehovah's Witnesses.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  23. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,125   +2,418

    I had someone like Jehovah's Witnesses come to my door once (or was that Mormons ;) ). They went through their pitch and then asked me, "Isn't that something you would like to believe in?" I said, "Only in addition to what I already believe in." At which point both of them simply gave me a blank stare. :D

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