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Ring’s police partnerships earn Amazon a knock on the door from Congress

A House subcommittee has asked Amazon to turn over information about its Ring unit’s deals with law enforcement agencies.

Ring’s police partnerships earn Amazon a knock on the door from Congress
[Photos: Ring; Louis Velazquez/Unsplash]
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A House panel has asked Amazon to turn over information about “Ring’s partnerships with city governments and local police departments, along with the company’s policies governing the data it collects” after reports about the home surveillance camera unit’s deals with law enforcement.

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“The Subcommittee is examining traditional constitutional protections against surveilling Americans and the balancing of civil liberties and security interests,” wrote Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, in a letter to Amazon.

The subcommittee, a division of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, cited reports that Ring has entered into arrangements with local law enforcement to promote its cameras and provide tools for police to request footage from camera owners. Krishnamoorthi also pointed to reports that the company “tightly controls” what partner agencies can say about it, to the point of editing a press release “to remove the word ‘surveillance.'”

In his letter, Krishnamoorthi asked Amazon to turn over information about its relationships with law enforcement, its integration with face recognition tools, and its privacy policies by March 4.

“The Subcommittee is seeking more information regarding why cities and law enforcement agencies enter into these agreements,” wrote Krishnamoorthi. “The answer appears to be that Ring gives them access to a much wider system of surveillance than they could build themselves, and Ring allows law enforcement access to a network of surveillance cameras on private property without the expense to taxpayers of having to purchase, install, and monitor those cameras.”

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Fast Company.

Ring, which Amazon acquired in 2018, has recently been the subject of concerns about privacy both in relation to its work with police and reports that some users had their cameras hacked.

About the author

Steven Melendez is an independent journalist living in New Orleans.

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