The chairman of a House Oversight panel wants a briefing with Amazon officials about the consumer security tool.
Lawmakers want answers from Amazon as civil liberties, privacy and surveillance concerns surrounding its Ring doorbell camera continue to mount.
In a letter to Amazon Feb. 19, Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, requested numerous documents and policies from the company, including how it partners with law enforcement agencies. The letter indicates the subcommittee is examining “traditional constitutional protections against surveilling Americans” and balancing civil liberties with security interests.
“The Subcommittee is seeking more information regarding why cities and law enforcement agencies enter into these agreements,” Krishnamoorthi said in the letter. “The answer appears to be that Ring gives them access to a much wider system of surveillance than they could build themselves, and Ring allows law enforcement access to a network of surveillance cameras on private property without the expense to taxpayers of having to purchase, install, and monitor those cameras.”
In 2019, Senate lawmakers voice similar concerns in a letter to Amazon Chief Executive Office Jeff Bezos when reports surfaced that Amazon Ring’s at-home camera systems were sharing information with police departments. At the time, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said such data sharing “could easily create a surveillance network that places dangerous burdens on people of color.”
Citing recent media reports and Amazon’s terms of service, Krishnamoorthi said law enforcement agencies can view videos shared by users of the device’s Neighbors application, request video from users or directly from Ring.
“Once law enforcement agencies have acess to consumers’ data, Ring has made it clear that the agencies can use, store and share that data however they want,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Krishnamoorthi asks Amazon to reveal all agreements with cities, law enforcement agencies and neighborhood watch groups, as well as all law enforcement entities that have access to the Neighbors Portal, and whether those agencies contract for Amazon’s facial recognition tool, Rekognition. In addition, Krishnamoorthi requests a briefing by the end of February from Amazon officials regarding a variety of Ring-related questions.