Amazon’s Ring security system is facing criticism after reports surfaced that the system shared user data without consent.
Axios reported that the doorbell system admitted to sharing user information with law enforcement without consent. The company said it has done so numerous times this year.
Amazon wrote in a letter that it only shared the data with law enforcement when “there was an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury,” but didn't give specific examples.
The information about the security breaches became public when Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) called on the company to commit to not using voice recognition on its devices. The company said it currently does not use voice recognition services but did not add anything about future use.
Markey said the breach is just another example of Amazon’s “growing web” of surveillance systems.
“Increasing law enforcement reliance on private surveillance creates a crisis of accountability, and I am particularly concerned that biometric surveillance could become central to the growing web of surveillance systems that Amazon and other powerful tech companies are responsible for," Markey wrote in a statement.
According to Axios, Ring has partnered with thousands of law enforcement agencies in an agreement that allows the agencies to request user data.
An audit by New York University’s Policing Project shows that most requests were related to “relatively serious property crimes and some violent crimes.” Shootings and homicides composed 16 percent of requests.
For its part, Amazon reportedly trumpeted its commitment to protecting user privacy.
"We will continue to prioritize privacy, security, and user control as we pursue and improve technologies to help achieve our mission of making neighborhoods safer," Amazon's Vice President for Public Policy Brian Huseman told Markey, according to Axios.
Ring said its actions are legal.
"The law authorizes companies like Ring to provide information to government entities if the company believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person, such as a kidnapping or an attempted murder, requires disclosure without delay," a Ring spokesperson told Axios. "Ring faithfully applies that legal standard."
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