Ring to Publicize Police Requests on App


Friday, June 4, 2021 - 6:41am

Security camera unit, Ring, is planning to make police requests for users’ video footage through its neighborhood watch app more transparent, a move that follows criticism that its products facilitate surveillance and profiling. Public safety agencies such as police and fire departments now must request material from their communities through a new, publicly viewable type of post on the Neighbors app, reports Reuters. Previously, Ring device owners would receive private messages from the app on behalf of police looking for videos. Ring’s partnerships with U.S. law enforcement agencies have drawn attention with hundreds of police and fire departments joining the app. 

However, Ring said no information would be shared with agencies without users choosing to do so and that requests can be issued only by verified agency police or fire department profile accounts. Request history will also be logged online so users can see how the police force is using their posts. Crowdsourced crime-tracking app Citizen was recently blasted for putting a $30,000 reward to find a man it wrongly said was an arson suspect. The company has said it regrets the mistake and is working to improve its internal processes. Citizen has also sparked controversy over what it said were internal tests for a service that would deploy rapid-response security personnel to app users in Los Angeles. Hyper-local site Nextdoor, which attracted more users during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been criticized for failing to more quickly address racial profiling and misinformation on the site. The site has said it is adding user prompts and moderator training to mitigate these issues. Ring said on Thursday it had rules in place to prevent "overly broad requests" from agencies on the Neighbors app, such as needing a valid case number and limiting the time frame and area in a request.

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