The subcommittee wants assurances from Amazon that its Ring doorbell camera isn’t being misused by law enforcement.
The House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy continued to press on Amazon over the company’s Ring doorbell camera technology as civil liberties, privacy and surveillance concerns pile up.
In a letter Thursday, subcommittee Chairman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., sought assurances from Amazon that its Ring Inc. subsidiary would abide by Amazon’s one-year moratorium on law enforcement’s use of its facial-recognition technology. In June, after civil unrest over police brutality, Amazon joined several companies, including IBM and Microsoft, in temporarily prohibiting the use of their facial recognition technologies by law enforcement, but Ring has announced no such plans.
Krishnamoorthi said the subcommittee is particularly concerned by Ring’s partnerships with police and its Neighbors application, which allows users to upload videos recorded by Ring’s doorbell cameras and share them directly with police.
“The Subcommittee is concerned that the messages that some users of Neighbors app are creating may stoke fears, prejudices, and violence,” Krishnamoorthi said in the letter. “The Subcommittee is eager to review your plans for addressing these problems. Unfortunately, if acceptable solutions are not presented, it may be necessary for Ring to heed calls to end its partnerships with police and retire its Neighbors App.”
Krishnamoorthi also criticized Amazon for stonewalling the subcommittee over Ring-related documents and information dating back to February, echoing similar privacy-related concerns voiced by the Senate. He renewed the subcommittee’s request for 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, the subcommittee has sought briefings by the company over Ring-related questions.