Amazon Ring BLM protest surveillance

Occurred: February 2021

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The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) came under fire from digital rights non-profit the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for asking 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.

The results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the EFF had sent to the LAPD suggests the heavily redacted email request made 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: Govt - police

Purpose: Strengthen security, safety

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

Transparency: Governance; Marketing