Doorbell-camera producer Ring will partner with more than 400 police agencies nationwide through its app in a bid to become the country’s “new neighborhood watch,” the company announced on a post to its website.
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The Amazon-owned company’s app, Neighbors, will allow 405 police departments to request homeowners’ camera footage for a certain time frame, but will also give the owners the opportunity to deny law enforcement access, according to the company. Law enforcement will not be able to view to live footage.
Ring, which was acquired by the Internet marketplace giant in April, had previously revealed plans to partner with police departments, but had not detailed the number of agencies potentially involved.
The WiFi-enabled security system, which streams to a user’s computer or cellphone, also allows users to share their video with anyone within a certain distance via the Neighbors app, which launched in May 2018.
Several people took to Twitter to express alarm and frustration over the announcement. Some, including NFL Network news anchor Patrick Claybon, threatened to discontinue use.
Ted Allen, host of “Chopped” on Food Network, posted an article about the revelation and wrote, in part: “Why I won't be getting a Ring doorbell.”
Last year, Jay Stanley, a senior political analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union, explained how the doorbell devices are potentially vulnerable to being hacked, as are other household items, because they are connected to the Internet.
But Wolcott, Connecticut Police Chief Ed Stephens spoke to The Associated Press last month about his willingness to try “anything” that could improve public safety.
“Anything that helps keep the town safe, I’m going to do it,” he said at the time.
In an emailed statement to FOX Business, a Ring spokesperson said, "[C]ustomers -- not law enforcement, are in control of their videos."
"Videos are shared through the Neighbors program only if: 1) a customer chooses to post it publicly on the Neighbors app; 2) explicit consent is provided by the customer," the spokesperson further noted. "Law enforcement agencies who participate in the Neighbors app must go through the Ring team when making a video request to customers. Customers can choose to opt out or decline any request, and law enforcement agencies have no visibility into which customers have received a request and which have opted out or declined."
Ring also provided an interactive map showing where participating police departments are located.