Amazon’s Ring doorbell camera ‘is effectively building the largest corporate-owned, civilian-installed surveillance network that the US has ever seen,’ it has been claimed.
The stark warning came from Lauren Bridges, a PhD candidate at University of Pennsylvania, who told The Guardian that one in ten police departments around the country have access to video from the civilian cameras after the company partnered with more than 1,800 local law enforcement agencies.
Bridges raises serious concerns that cops are able to request Ring videos from members of the public without a warrant, which she claims is deliberately circumnavigating the Fourth Amendment – the right not to be searched or have items seized without a legal warrant.
Last year alone, law enforcement agencies filed 22,337 individual requests for Ring videos, according to data compiled by Bridges.
A report in the California Law Review claimed that Amazon even assisted and coached law enforcement on how to circumvent legal requirements—such as the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.
The claims are supported by ‘scripts’, obtained by Vice in 2019 from the Topeka, KS police department, which tell police how to encourage users to share camera footage with police and encourage friends to download the Neighbors app.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, nonprofit organization for ‘defending civil liberties in the digital world,’ has even formed petitions calling on Ring to end its partnerships with law enforcement agencies.