Amazon camera unit Ring is planning calls by police to make users’ videos more transparent through its environmental monitoring app, the company said on Thursday after criticizing its products.
Public safety agencies such as police and firefighters must now solicit material from their communities through a new type of publicly visible post on the Neighbours app, Ring said in a blog.
Previously, Ring device owners received private messages from the app on behalf of the police looking for videos.
The ring is a smart security equipment company whose video ringtone product allows users to see and record people approaching their doors, prevent theft and allow them to monitor areas around their home. It was purchased in 2018 by e-commerce giant Amazon.
Social devices and apps, which allow users to share and discuss surveillance footage captured by cameras, have raised concerns from lawmakers and civil rights groups regarding privacy and racial profiling.
Ring’s partnerships with US law enforcement authorities have received special attention. According to Ring’s active tracker, hundreds of police and firefighters have joined the Neighbours app.
Ring said the new “Request for Assistance” feature will be released in the Neighbors app starting next week.
He said no information would be shared with agencies without user preference and requests could only be made from verified agency profiles and request history would be reported online so users could see how police used the posts.
Social applications aimed at environmental safety have received increasing attention in recent months.
The Crowdsourcing Citizen Crime Detection Program was recently criticized for investing $30,000 around Rs. 21.8 lakh) the reward for finding a man falsely considered an arsonist. The company said it regrets the mistake and is working to improve its internal processes. Citizen also sparked controversy over what he believed was an internal test for a service that would deploy application security teams in Los Angeles.
The hyperlocal site Nextdoor, which attracted more users during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been criticized for not being able to process race profiles and misinformation on the site more quickly. The site said it is adding user guides and training for moderators to help resolve these issues.
Ring said on Thursday that he has rules to avoid “very broad requests” from agencies in the Neighbours app, such as the need for a valid case number and time and area restrictions on a request.
Amazon also recently extended a law enforcement moratorium on its facial recognition technology, which it says is not used in Ring products, for a year.