Amazon’s Ring home security aims for safety, but what does it mean for privacy?

Amazon-owned security company Ring plans to work with local police departments to grant it direct access to real-time emergency dispatch.

According to Gizmodo, Ring has issued contracts to 225 police departments in the U.S. in order to gain access to their computer-aided dispatch (CAD) feeds, which emergency responders use to automate responses, to expedite assistance. Ring has requested permission to tap into this data to update posts for the “neighborhood watch” app, Neighbors.

The app allows police to see camera footage into your home, once you have approved its access, and gives remote access to video clips from other Ring doorbells with crime alerts in the area. If the app’s News Team notices suspicious activity including fires or theft, they notify subscribers. They also cite a lengthy list of other crimes that would prompt Ring’s intervention including “Animal Investigation,” “Civil Matter,” “Bomb Threat,” “Vandalism” and “Welfare Check.”

The Neighbors App associated with the Ring is a digital Neighborhood Watch, where locals can post about concerning sightings on a continuous feed, even if the user doesn’t have the app.

While the app provides opportunities for expedited emergency response time and improves community safety measures, the all-access surveillance has raised concerns about a police state.

Another concern with the app is that the ease of submitting reports may increase the number of non-threatening concerns, like a food deliverer mistaken for a burglar, draining police resources. The Santa Monica, California-based company aims to reduce concerns of accidental alerts by mandating incidents be timely and under an hour old, as well as affecting the community-at-large.

Several police departments already provide real-time police dispatch information. For example, the Dallas Police Department posts information to its website but refrains from publishing sensitive information. The Seattle Police Department raised concerns earlier this year about potentially violating the city’s privacy requirements when it planned to purchase CAD software.

Ring views itself as an intermediary for police to request access to citizen-captured surveillance footage.

“Ring customers decide whether to share footage publicly or with law enforcement, ” a Ring spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. “As we continue to develop our programs, privacy, security and control will remain extremely important to us, and every decision we make as a company centers around these three pillars.”


Amazon purchased the "Shark Tank"-rejected Ring last year for $1 billion. The Ring alarm costs $239.00 on Amazon.