A New Map Shows All The Places Where Police Have Partnered With Amazon's Ring Camera Service

Digital rights group Fight for the Future has compiled a map that shows the breadth of Amazon Ring partnerships with local police for the first time. The interactive map lists dozens of cities that have formed partnerships with the doorbell camera company across the US — though there may be more secret partnerships in the works.

To narrow down the map to show where local law enforcement works with Ring, users can filter the map for “Police” (local and state) and search for the word “Ring.”

“It’s impossible to talk about government surveillance without also talking about corporate surveillance,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, told BuzzFeed News. “These Amazon Ring partnerships with police are the perfect example. A private individual can buy a private surveillance device from a private company and install it at their private residence, but then the information it collects can be transmitted to government authorities because that company has a for-profit partnership with the cops.”

Ring, a doorbell camera company which Amazon acquired in April 2018, has been minting partnership after partnership with local law enforcement that would let consumers share security footage from their doorsteps with police through Ring’s Neighborhood app in order to aid police investigations — though a customer must actively opt in. This week, when the camera devices were heavily discounted on both Prime Days, Amazon’s self-started shopping event, some pointed out that the increase of Ring devices could also augment neighborhood surveillance and fear-based social media.

There’s good reason to be concerned about how sound Ring’s privacy practices are. Last month, BuzzFeed News reported that Ring was using its real customers’ footage for ads, which also revealed its incredibly broad terms of service. “You hereby grant Ring and its licensees an unlimited, irrevocable, fully paid and royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide rights to exploit Shared Content for any purpose,” reads the company’s terms of service. In January, both The Intercept and The Information reported that Ring gave different teams access to unencrypted customer video files on company servers and live feeds from some customer cameras.

The cities on Fight for the Future’s map include Addison, IL; Anne Arundel, MD; Auburn Hills, MI; Birmingham, AL; and Bloomfield, NJ, among others. Meanwhile, CNET has reported that police in Indiana, New Jersey, California, and many other states have held events and offered discounts for Ring cameras, sometimes up to $125. Those discounts, at time, came from taxpayer money.

“Amazon is aggressively marketing surveillance products, including facial recognition, to government agencies with a proven track record of human rights abuses,” Greer told BuzzFeed News. “Like Microsoft, they claim they’re open to regulation, but that’s because they want to assuage people’s fears and avoid the real debate over whether this type of surveillance has any place in a free and open society. There is no amount of regulation that will “fix” the problems inherent in facial recognition. It must be banned.”

BuzzFeed News has reached out to Ring and Amazon for comment.

More on this

  • Ring Is Using Its Customers’ Doorbell Camera Video For Ads. It Says It’s Allowed To.Davey Alba · June 7, 2019
  • With No Laws To Guide It, Here’s How Orlando Is Using Amazon’s Facial Recognition TechnologyDavey Alba · Oct. 26, 2018
  • Amazon Employees Demand It Stop Working With ICE. The Company Said It’s Up To The Government.Caroline O'Donovan · July 12, 2019

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  • Davey Alba is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. While working for BuzzFeed News, she won the 2019 Livingston Award for international reporting.

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