LA police request private Amazon Ring BLM protest footage

Occurred: February 2021

Los Angeles police came under fire for asking users of Amazon's Ring smart home system for their camera footage of protests following the 2020 death of George Floyd.

Digital rights non-profit the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) discovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that the Los Angeles Police Department had asked users of Amazon's Ring smart home system for camera footage from the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests that took place across the US in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

In response, request the LAPD had sent a heavily redacted email making no mention of any specific crime the LAPD may have been pursuing, only that the police wanted footage of an unspecified 'incident' related to a protest.

Per the BBC, Amazon requires that any requests from police include a valid case number for an active investigation, and details of the incident. Such requests can only be made if the purpose is to 'identify individuals responsible for theft, property damage, and physical injury'.

Amazon Ring users are under no obligation to share data with the police. However, a 2019 Motherboard report showed that Ring had been actively coaching police departments on how best to persuade Ring users into voluntarily sharing their surveillance videos.  

Rights groups worry that Ring’s video-sharing systems pressure private citizens into turning over their data to police without the oversight of a judge. 

Operator: Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)
Developer: Amazon/Ring

Country: USA

Sector: Consumer goods; Govt - police

Purpose: Strengthen security, safety

Technology: CCTV
Issue: Privacy; Surveillance; Dual/multi-use

Transparency: Governance; Marketing