New policy on Ring Camera video access for law enforcement agencies

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Big changes are coming to a popular home surveillance device that supporters say will help protect the owner’s privacy.

Amazon says after criticism from advocates, it will stop allowing police departments and other public safety agencies to request Ring Doorbell camera footage directly from users.

In a blog post on Wednesday, the company said they are removing the Request For Assistance tool on the Neighbors app.

Corporal Kelly Cox with the Craven County Sheriff’s Office says multiple cases have been solved from its recordings.

“What it does, a lot of times, even if it doesn’t lead us to a direct result of solving a crime, what it would do is help us establish the dates and timelines” says Cox.

Abena-adora Gwin says she agrees with critics who say a users’ ability to report what they see as suspicious behavior can lead to more instances of racial profiling.

“One hundred percent. That’s one of the other key things is that they have to do the work basically now in order to get these warrants and get access to these cameras, so now they can’t just watch for whatever they deem to be suspicious. It has to genuinely be suspicious” says Gwin.

Ring disclosed it handed over 11 videos to police without notifying users due to emergency circumstances, one of the categories that allowed it to share videos without permission from owners.

Cox says law enforcement agencies can still access videos using a search warrant.

“We do want to protect people’s rights and make sure that they have privacy and everything and just don’t think that law enforcement or whoever is going to be able to have access to their personal images and everything” says Cox.

Ring says they maintain the right to share footage without user consent in limited circumstances.

The company did not provide a reason for the change, but says it is effective starting this week.