Smart bells are convenient not only because they connect to the Internet, but also because they can take pictures and record videos of those at the door. Many of them have motion sensors to activate their cameras which, in turn, can often have a wider and more distant view than just what is immediately in front of your door. This made these smart video buzzers interesting to law enforcement officials and nearly 2,000 of them are now listed as partners who can request a copy of what the Amazon Ring may or may not have seen.
Although there are a number of smart video buzzers now on the market, Amazon’s ring has become popular and notorious for different reasons. Taking the name of Amazon has put it on a pedestal above other brands and that popularity has made it almost ubiquitous. This, in turn, makes it an ideal tool in the eyes of the United States police and fire departments.
Amazon Ring has gained some negative publicity because Amazon was supposed to be very cooperative when it comes to responding to requests from authorities to gain access to Ring camera data stored on its servers. Since the news broke, more than 2,000 departments, both police and fire departments, have been added to the network of entities that can request a copy of this data. According to the Financial Times report, up to 62 were added in the last month alone.
The slightly good news is that Amazon’s compliance rate also dropped 57% in 2020, at least compared to its performance in 2019. Requests are denied when Amazon determines that it is too broad or inadequate. Amazon also regularly deletes older videos, so naturally, it cannot provide those that have expired.
The Amazon Ring network remains controversial for privacy advocates, despite and especially because of the popularity of the smart video doorbell. The authorities hope that the cameras can assist in collecting evidence on criminal acts, but there are anecdotes and figures on both sides contesting or confirming their real usefulness in assisting the investigation.