The company said on Thursday that Amazon’s camera division, Ring, plans to make police requests for user video clips more transparent through its neighborhood surveillance app, a move that was made after criticizing its products for promoting surveillance and analysis.

Ring said in his blog that public safety agencies such as police and fire departments must now request materials from their communities through a new, publicly viewable post type on the Neighbors app.

Previously, the owner of the Ring device would receive a private message from the app when looking for a video on behalf of the police.

Ring is a smart security device company whose video doorbell product allows users to see and record people approaching their door, thereby preventing theft and allowing them to monitor at home. It was acquired by e-commerce giant Amazon in 2018.

Its devices and social apps allow users to share and discuss surveillance footage taken through their cameras, but lawmakers and civil rights organizations have expressed concerns about privacy and racial profiling.

Ring’s partnership with U.S. law enforcement agencies has attracted special attention. According to Ring’s active agency tracker, hundreds of police and fire departments have joined the Neighbors app.

Ring said that the new “request for assistance” feature in the Neighbors app will begin rolling out next week.

It stated that without the user’s choice, no information will be shared with agencies, and requests can only be posted through verified agency profiles, and the request history will be recorded online, so users can see how their police use these Post.

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In recent months, social applications focused on community safety have received increasing scrutiny.

Citizen, a crowdsourcing crime tracking app, has recently come under fire for investing approximately $30,000. 2.18 million) Reward for finding a person who was mistaken for an arson suspect. The company expressed regret for this error and is working to improve its internal processes. Citizen also sparked controversy over the internal testing of a service that it said will deploy responsive security personnel for app users in Los Angeles.

The ultra-local site Nextdoor, which attracted more users during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been criticized for failing to resolve the racial profiling and misinformation on the site more quickly. The website said it is adding user tips and moderator training to alleviate these problems.

Ring said on Thursday that it had established rules to prevent agencies from making “too broad requests” on the Neighbors app, such as requiring a valid case number and limiting the time frame and area of ​​the request.

Amazon also recently extended a one-year ban on police use of its facial recognition technology, the company said, Ring products do not use the technology.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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