Ring, the sensible dwelling safety firm acquired by Amazon in 2018 for $1 billion, has a historical past of elevating privateness considerations with its person information practices. Less than a 12 months after Amazon accomplished its acquisition of Ring, an inside source revealed that the corporate’s staff had full entry to clients’ stay video feeds, which is a significant privateness violation when clients are putting in cameras inside and outdoors their houses, trusting that nobody is creeping on them by mentioned cameras. Then, in 2020, the corporate was discovered to be sharing buyer information with third-party corporations, and, in 2021, a bug in Ring’s Neighbors app prompted the leakage of nameless customers’ exact places.

US Senators have responded to those regarding revelations previously by sending letters to Amazon, asking the corporate to make clear and clarify Ring’s insurance policies and information safety practices. More not too long ago, Ring has come beneath scrutiny for its agreements with police departments throughout America that give members of regulation enforcement entry to buyer video and audio recordings. Senator Edward Markey despatched Amazon a letter final month asking the corporate about these agreements and Ring’s dealing with of buyer information. Amazon’s vp of public coverage, Brian Huseman, responded to the Senator’s query in a letter obtained by The Intercept this week.

Ring Video Doorbell (source: Ring)

In his response, Huseman revealed that 2,161 regulation enforcement companies and 455 hearth departments have enrolled in Ring’s Neighbors Public Safety Service (NPSS), granting them the power to entry buyer video and audio beneath sure circumstances. Departments and companies enrolled in NPSS are in a position to entry Ring footage as long as one among three circumstances is met: clients consent, a warrant is obtained, or “an exigent or emergency” circumstance arises.

Asked to make clear this third situation, Huseman wrote that “Ring reserves the right to respond immediately to urgent law enforcement requests for information in cases involving imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person.” The vp of public coverage went on to say that members of regulation enforcement are required to submit an emergency request kind describing the scenario, and Ring “makes a good-faith determination whether the request meets the well-known standard, grounded in federal law, that there is imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requiring disclosure of information without delay.

In apply, this coverage implies that Ring can resolve to let regulation enforcement side-step the shopper consent or warrant requirement and entry clients’ video and audio. According to Huseman, Ring offered buyer footage to members of regulation enforcement eleven occasions to this point this 12 months. The firm does provide end-to-end encryption (E2EE), which, if carried out correctly, ought to stop each Ring and any third occasion, together with regulation enforcement, from accessing buyer video. However, at current, this function is just not enabled by default.

Huseman defined this determination in his letter (PDF) by calling E2EE an “advanced feature” that “may not be right for all customers” as a result of it disables sure different options. At least in our view, we’d quite that Ring err on the aspect of person privateness and information sovereignty by making E2EE normal, and letting clients disable it to achieve entry to extra options if desired.