In a bold move in defense of individual privacy, Amazon Ring has announced a significant policy change. Starting in February 2024, Ring will no longer facilitate police requests for home security footage through its Neighbors app. This decision marks a fundamental shift in the balance between security and privacy.
Ring, a well-known name in home security, has faced criticism for its past practices of sharing security videos with police without user consent. The company’s latest software update, detailed in a recent blog post Eric Kuhn, head of the Neighbors platform, highlights the elimination of the “Assistance Request” tool. Previously, this tool allowed law enforcement to request images from the user directly through the application.
While police and fire departments can still use the Neighbors app to share safety tips and updates, directly requesting and receiving video content is now out of the question. According to Ring, this change aligns more closely with his vision of empowering customers and fostering community connections.
The police may have access in these extreme cases.
Despite this change, law enforcement is not completely insulated from accessing Ring footage. In extreme cases, such as life-threatening emergencies (think kidnappings or attempted murders), police can still request footage directly from companies like Ring. These cases, however, are rare and are subject to Ring’s own discretion. In fact, Ring has responded to these types of emergency requests only a handful of times in recent months.
Furthermore, traditional legal avenues remain open. Authorities can still obtain a court order or subpoena to access video footage, subject to court oversight and specific time limitations.
What you should do to limit police use of your Ring camera
For Ring users, this update requires little action. It is advisable to keep your devices and applications updated to receive the latest firmware changes. Ring is not just remove; They are also adding new features like “Ring Moments” for light-hearted video sharing and a “Best of Ring” video collection, enhancing the community aspect of the platform.
The conclusion here is clear: privacy matters. While security is paramount, it should not come at the expense of individual privacy. Ring’s decision reflects a growing awareness and respect for this balance after years of reporting on this somewhat unknown secret.
Did you know that other Amazon devices, including Echo and Ring products, allow neighbors to connect to your network without your permission, unless you opt out? It’s presumptuous of Amazon to make this an automatic feature, and I recommend turning it off if you want added security. That is how.
How to opt out of Sidewalk on your Ring Video Doorbell or Ring devices
Sidewalk is a feature from Amazon that allows your Ring devices to share a small portion of their Internet bandwidth with their neighbors. If you are not comfortable with this, you can opt out of Sidewalk by following these simple steps.
- Launch Ring application
- Tap on the 3 line menu at the top left
- Gonna “Control center” (towards the end of the navigation)
- Click “Amazon Sidewalk”
- Slide the Sidewalk slider button to the left then it says “Off”
Non-cloud-connected cameras offer more privacy
For those concerned about privacy, consider devices that offer local storage options. Unlike footage stored in the cloud, local storage gives you more control, making it harder for companies to share your videos without consent, although they are still subject to lawsuits.
Kurt’s Key Takeaways
Ring’s policy update is an important step toward protecting individual privacy. It is a measure that encourages users to stay informed and consider their options in the changing landscape of home security and privacy rights. Now is a good time to review the privacy settings on your video doorbell and make sure it feels right. Check the names of those who have access, ensuring cameras are only shared with those you know and trust.
What do you think of Ring’s decision to stop facilitating police requests for home security footage? Do you agree or disagree with this? Let us know by writing to us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.
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