Last week, Motherboard reported on a public record request that revealed that Amazon had struck confidential deals with local police forces to get them to promote the company's Internet of Things "Ring" doorbells, and the accompanying "Neighbors" app that produces a kind of private surveillance mesh overlooking nearby public spaces -- under the terms of the deal, cops would be able to see a map noting locations of Ring surveillance cams and request footage from their owners.
Now, a further records request shows that one officer who was trained by Amazon for the program was told that 200 law enforcement agencies had struck similar deals.
The officer who sent the email told Motherboard that the email was a transcribed version of handwritten notes that he took during a team webinar with a Ring representative on April 9. Additional emails obtained by Motherboard indicate that this webinar trained officers on how to use the "Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal." This portal allows local police to see a map with the approximate locations of all Ring cameras in a neighborhood, and request footage directly from camera owners. Owners need to consent, but police do not need a warrant to ask for footage.
The email obtained by Motherboard was sent from the Waynesboro, Virginia Chief of Police to himself in an email with the subject line “Neighbors by RING notes.” The email ends with the name and phone number of a Ring Neighborhood’s Training Manager, responsible for communicating with police and training them on the use of Ring products. The email is dated April 16.
Amazon Told Police It Has Partnered With 200 Law Enforcement Agencies [Caroline Haskins/Motherboard]
(Image: Cryteria, CC-BY, modified)
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Update: Justin Reese from Abstractions writes, "policy changes were implemented last night and additional changes were made this morning." He adds, "The article was also inaccurate from the start by calling the wristbands surveillance devices in the title. They are only used to control access and don't track where users are or have been except […]
Every time I write about the unfolding scandal of Amazon's secret partnerships with hundreds of US police departments who get free merch and access to Ring surveillance doorbell footage in exchange for acting as a guerrilla marketing street-team for Ring, I get an affronted email from Amazon PR, implying that I got it all wrong, […]
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