Ring and law enforcement have been in the news recently for privacy concerns, and it’s not going away. Reporting by Vice’s Motherboard shows that El Monte, California police created their own Ring Rewards program. They purchased doorbell cameras and were planning to give them out in return for crime tips.
In order to receive a free Ring doorbell camera, a resident must give “descriptive knowledge of a suspect seen committing a burglary to a residence in El Monte” that is more than “a generic description of only sex and race.” The resident must also “be willing to testify” about the suspect in court.
The announcement for the program says, “Whenever possible, the Ring doorbell camera will be presented to witness within one week of arrest.”
IMAGE: EXCERPT OF THE “RING REWARD PROGRAM” DOCUMENT OBTAINED BY MOTHERBOARD.
Ring partnerships give the police access to the “Law Enforcement Neighborhoods Portal.” The portal is an interactive map that lets police request Ring camera footage from anyone in their community. Camera owners need to give police permission for them to obtain footage, but police don’t need a warrant to request footage from owners.
In return for this access, police departments have to promote Ring products either implicitly or explicitly. Researcher Shreyas Gandlur found that at least 231 police departments around the country have partnered with Ring.
Motherboard is doing great reporting on this. They’ve made all the documents available at documentcloud.