400 Police Departments Now Have Access To Citizen's Amazon Ring Cameras, and Some Aren't Happy

Amazon's Ring Doorbell has partnered with 400 police departments around America to invoke a "neighborhood watch" program with safety in mind. The new partnership, which was detailed by the Washington Post on Tuesday, says police with an Amazon partnership who request access to the doorbell footage can be granted viewing rights.

While this could be seen as a new safety measure so police can have their eyes on resident safety even without being in the location, many are angry with the development and see it as a huge invasion of privacy.

Ring Doorbell first partnered with Amazon in 2018, five years after the business creator, Jamie Siminoff, had been rejected on entrepreneurial-based reality show Shark Tank. Now, online shoppers can purchase their own, video and audio-based doorbell, which interacts with their cell phone and Amazon Alexa, on Amazon for a price between $100 and $200. A smart lock add-on increases the price dramatically, to over $400.

Ring Doorbell
Amazon and the Ring Doorbell are under fire by some social media users, who claim police partnership with the device is an invasion of privacy. Amazon

The goal of the Ring Doorbell is to promote safety in the home, and even when away. Commercials for the doorbell show people, even out of their home, scaring away burglars through the speaker, activated by their smartphone.

Users of the smart doorbell have even posted their video footage to report problems with deliveries, stolen packages and more.

Hey @FedExCanada @FedEx @FedExHelp, this is how my BRAND NEW APPLE COMPUTER was delivered. No doorbell ring either. I’m disgusted. @StaplesCanada pic.twitter.com/vYxtrcfikO

— Kylie hersco (@kyliehersco) August 20, 2019

Though police involvement could add an extra layer of security, especially when it comes to home intruders or package thieves, some social media users seem to see the connection, which the Washington Post claimed was enacted secretly, as inappropriate for a family-controlled, home system.

In order to obtain access to any video footage, police will reportedly need to get permission from the device owner, similarly to how law enforcement must gain permission to enter a home or view surveillance footage without a warrant.

Some people are dubious and say police are using it as a method of control. Others commented on Ring Doorbell's connection to a smartphone and wondered if police will also have access to a citizen's personal phone.

This is happening in the midst of a nearly 40 year decline in residential burglary that long predated the internet. This is about playing on latent fear to further everyday surveillance and the further erosion of privacy, not about anyone's security. https://t.co/S7gzog5qcu

— Jeffrey Fagan (@JFagan46) August 28, 2019

Maybe I should put privacy on my wishlist : )https://t.co/EQF1whoj3x

— Eric Courville (@_organicit) August 28, 2019

I’m increasingly happy I have a “dumb house” thing is I might start taping the camera on my iPhone. It’s getting too creepy.

— Mimi is exhausted is it 2021 yet? (@MimiLeroch) August 28, 2019

@ring I’d suggest you offer an opt-out or you will be losing a customer

— Patrick Claybon (@PatrickClaybon) August 28, 2019

Others are fine with the idea of police viewing, and see their safety as more important than privacy.

Future of crime fighting is here. The trade-off between privacy vs. safety is a tough; I'm mixed. Easy to take a stance on privacy, but who doesn't want to keep their home and neighborhood safe? I think I'm getting old when I realize I'm okay with this.https://t.co/XrjEpPMy2E

— Aaron Burke (@aaronburke6) August 28, 2019

Has nobody read 1984? Do you people really think “if you do nothing wrong you have nothing to fear?” How intellectually numb is this society?

— meliodas (@BfDogood) August 28, 2019

The police need homeowner permission to access the video. And why not share evidence of crime if it exists? This headline makes it sound like the police have nothing better to do than watch the garbage truck drive by twice a week.

— SFrances (@SSconey) August 28, 2019

While the Washington Post article is one of the first to claim such a large number of departments are now connected with Amazon, it's far from the first article that's raised concern in Ring-using citizens. Dozens of articles question the privacy in owning a Ring Doorbell and see it as another conspiracy-like electronic, similarly to those who claim cell phones and other devices are tracking user conversation.