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Ring reportedly outed camera owners to police with a heat map

Ring reportedly outed camera owners to police with a heat map


It has since removed the tool

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Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Amazon-owned home surveillance company Ring gave law enforcement a heat map that let police see all devices installed in an area, allowing them to view users down to the street level, according to a new report from CNET.

Feature was removed in July

While the feature was removed in July, law enforcement could reportedly use the function to search for the concentration of cameras in a neighborhood, and even see circles drawn around individual user locations. The documents that revealed the feature were obtained by a privacy researcher and shared with the publication.

The feature was so specific, according to CNET, that police could essentially obtain the specific location of Ring customers. While police can request videos from users through Ring, the company has denied that it provides information to law enforcement on who, specifically, owns their products.

In a statement, a Ring spokesperson said that zooming in on the map “would not provide actual device locations.”

“Ring is constantly working to improve our products and services and, earlier this year, we updated the video request process to no longer include any device density information,” the spokesperson said. “Previous iterations of the video request feature included approximate device density, and locations were obfuscated to protect user privacy.”

Ring has faced scrutiny over its seemingly close relationship with United States police departments. The company has partnered with hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the United States, raising questions about user privacy. Recently, after sending a letter about Ring’s privacy practices, Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) said the company’s policies presented “an open door for privacy and civil liberty violations.”

Update, 6:05PM ET: Includes statement from Ring spokesperson.