Amazon reportedly aides police in gaining Ring footage without a warrant

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,630   +614
Staff member
WTF?! Amazon’s Ring division is reportedly advising law enforcement on how to persuade people to turn over their camera footage without providing a warrant. Furthermore, if the owner refuses, the police may still be able to retrieve it from Ring by request.

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

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Jeff Re

Posts: 227   +202
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...
 

ShagnWagn

Posts: 1,297   +1,081
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.
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,562   +1,839
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"
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,562   +1,839
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.
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.
 

psycros

Posts: 3,227   +3,469
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.
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.
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.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,582   +6,096
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!
 

zorven

Posts: 15   +8
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.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,461   +6,132
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...
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.
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,048   +1,420
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...
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.
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"
 

treetops

Posts: 3,065   +784
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.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 974   +576
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.
 

Bubbajim

Posts: 720   +694
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.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,209   +4,970
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.
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".
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 5,476   +3,574
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.
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".
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.
I wonder if it will catch the monster under my bed? :laughing:
Only if it decides to get out from under the bed, go out the bedroom window, then knock on the front door.
Isn't that something that is normal for monsters to do? My monsters do that frequently! :laughing:
 

Catweazle

Posts: 88   +99
“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
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,209   +4,970
...[ ]....Isn't that something that is normal for monsters to do? My monsters do that frequently! :laughing:
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.
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 5,476   +3,574
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.
:laughing::laughing::laughing:
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