Despite persistent stories about the security of Ring doorbells, they still remain extremely popular. It made the news that Amazon was sharing user data with some police departments, yet sales still persist. And now, more than 2,000 police departments are using Amazon’s Ring user data to help them catch crooks.
Rise in Amazon Ring-Police Partnership
It seems to be like a Catch-22. The more Ring doorbells made the news, the more people bought one. And the more houses there are with Ring doorbells, the more police want that data.
A recent report shows the number of police departments using Ring data doubled last year, adding more than 1,189. Of course, people are spending much more time at home, leading to them wanting to install some type of security camera.
It should be noted that the police are not using Ring user data without their knowledge. Law enforcement contacts Ring users and asks them to provide them with the camera footage. Yet, they don’t need a warrant to request it. While users can decline, Amazon can be forced to supply it through subpoenas, search warrants, court orders, etc., regardless of the user’s wishes.
When Amazon was asked to confirm the number of police departments it was working with, it declined to answer but did mention the RIng’s “Active Agency Map.” It’s updated quarterly “so that Ring device owners, Neighbors users, and the broader public have greater insight into how public safety agencies use Neighbors to engage with their communities.”
A Ring spokesperson said, “Like many other companies, Ring receives and responds to legally binding law enforcement requests for user information that are not overly broad or otherwise inappropriate. At Ring, we are committed to being transparent about our privacy and security practices.”
In another blog post, it explains the requests law enforcement made in 2020. These included the subpoenas, search warrants, court orders, etc., that take place regardless of user consent.
There were 2,149 requests, with 919 granted for “full response.” Search warrants made up 830 of the granted requests. Ring gave up a “partial response” to 171 of the requests. “No response” was provided to 810 cases.
All states in the U.S. have made requests for data except for Wyoming and Montana. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, police department was among those with the most requests. The second half of 2020 saw 431 requests from the Milwaukee police. This was more than any other department. Milwaukee also broke its record for the number of homicides in November – at least 184.
What It Means for Users
Despite these stories about working with the police, Ring continues to sell its popular doorbell camera. Online sales were up 18 percent in December over one year earlier. It’s estimated that it sold 400,000 in December, making it the best sales month Ring has had. Just one month earlier, It was reported that Ring Doorbells Gen 2 were recalled because of a fire hazard.
This all means when it comes to privacy vs. security, security is winning. More people choose to use Ring to provide them with security than those who are worried about losing their privacy to the police.
Image Credit: Amazon Ring Doorbell