Ring is adjusting how public agencies such as police and fire departments are able to request video clips from Ring camera owners in its Neighbors app. Starting next week, agencies will only be able to request clips be sent to them through public posts that are viewable in the app’s main feed; they will no longer be able to send individuals specific requests for clips.
Ring says this new method provides greater transparency to what public agencies are requesting, as all requests will now be logged on the agency’s profile and reviewable by anyone using the app. Agencies will not be able to remove or delete the posts, according to Ring, though they can be marked as “resolved.” Ring says it limits video clips requests to “verified public safety agencies” and has a set of guidelines that agencies must abide by in order to be able to request footage.
Prior to this change, law enforcement agencies were able to send private emails through Ring to owners who lived in an area of active investigation in order to request footage, which the owners could then approve or deny. Though the app allowed Ring owners to blanket deny all requests for footage, these emails were not publicly available for review.
Once the change is live in the app, Ring owners will see posts from their local authorities in the main app feed. They can then click on those posts to securely share footage from their cameras. Ring says that if you previously opted out of receiving requests for video clips, you will not receive notifications when agencies post to the feed. It will also be possible to hide the requests from the feed entirely. In general, the change makes the whole process more opt-in than opt-out, as it was before.
The Neighbors app has been one of the most controversial aspects of Ring’s product line, as it has long faced criticism for amplifying mundane issues and providing a way for minorities to be harassed. It is a separate app from Ring’s main app, which is used for setup and control of Ring cameras, and is similar to hyperlocal social networks such as Nextdoor.