Often, residents were asked by officers to review surveillance footage through their home surveillance system Ring. According to emails obtained by Gizmodo, the number of times a resident was asked, along with their response, were allegedly sent to law enforcement by Ring.
The emails allegedly say Ring, which is owned by Amazon, informed the Fort Lauderdale, Florida police department the number of times residents had either refused police access to their cameras or ignored their requests altogether. Ring allegedly informed officers of a 3.5 percent response rate to their requests and officers were given assurance from Ring more would be done to expand that data.
“[We] are working on adding more data points but this will give the chief an idea of how your video requests are doing so far,” a Ring employee allegedly said in emails to Fort Lauderdale police.
A Ring spokesperson told Gizmodo the information given does not align with their company policy.
“When Neighbors first launched in the Ring app, initial video request data was analyzed in addition to getting feedback from a few early partners,” the spokesperson said. “This is not representative of our current policies or the current video request process. Ring does not provide video request data to law enforcement agencies.”
The obtained emails align with consumer fears surrounding privacy and safety. Digital rights activists worry the information being gathered could quickly be turned against them.
“What people fundamentally misunderstand is self-surveillance is potentially a form of government surveillance,” said Andrew Ferguson, a professor at the University of the District of Columbia School of Law, to Vice. “Because the information you are collecting — you think to augment and improve your life — is one step away from being obtained by law enforcement to completely upend your life.”
According to data released by Ring, the company has partnerships with more than 400 law enforcement agencies across the nation.