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Amazon lets police ask for Ring videos that are more than a month old

Amazon lets police ask for Ring videos that are more than a month old


New details revealed in a letter

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon’s Ring home security company lets police ask users for videos that are up to 45 days old and 12 hours long, Amazon said in a letter released today.

Sen. Markey released Amazon’s responses

Ring has been the source of privacy concerns for months, as the company, which offers doorbell cameras, faces questions about how it works with law enforcement. The home security business has partnered with hundreds of police agencies around the United States, giving a way for officials to request customer footage through Amazon, with users’ approval. Those reports prompted Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) to ask Amazon for more information on Ring’s privacy practices.

Today, Markey released Amazon’s responses. To ask for video footage, the company says, police must provide a specific case number, but otherwise doesn’t require any evidence for police to request footage.

In one notable exchange, Amazon explained the scope of videos police can request. In addition to requesting up to 12 hours of video produced in the last 45 days, police can ask for footage within a maximum of 0.5 square miles. Police are prohibited from sending “batch” requests for footage, according to the company, and users can select which videos they want to share.

Amazon also addressed questions about whether it has employed facial recognition in its cameras, saying it was a “contemplated, but unreleased feature.”

Markey said in a statement that the responses show Ring was “an open door for privacy and civil liberty violations.”

“Connected doorbells are well on their way to becoming a mainstay of American households, and the lack of privacy and civil rights protections for innocent residents is nothing short of chilling,” the senator said in the statement.