Civil rights groups pen letter opposing Amazon Ring police partnerships

More than 30 different civil rights groups are calling on Amazon to stop its partnership between local police departments and its Amazon Ring smart doorbell. 

The digital rights group, Fight for Future, penned a letter on Monday, October 7, to elected officials about concerns over the tech giant’s Ring partnerships with police, as well as to pass surveillance oversight ordinances. Other groups that signed the letter include Media Justice, Color of Change, Demand Progress, National Immigration Law Center, Center for Human Rights and Privacy, and more. 

“Amazon Ring partnerships with police departments threaten civil liberties, privacy and civil rights, and exist without oversight or accountability. Given its significant risks, no surveillance partnerships with Amazon Ring should have been established, or should be established in the future, without substantial community engagement and input and elected official approval,” the letter reads. 

The letter comes after an August report from the Washington Post that Ring’s police partnerships now include 400 departments across the country. In the letter, Fight for Future claims that footage and data from Ring cameras can be used to target protesters, be shared with other agencies like ICE, or be used to conduct facial recognition searches. 

Fight for Future said that Amazon has not been transparent in its plans to integrate facial recognition software into its Ring cameras. The group also says the partnership poses a “serious threat to civil rights and liberties, especially for black and brown communities already targeted and surveiled by law enforcement.”

A Ring spokesperson told Digital Trends that it’s inaccurate that the partnership between Ring and law enforcement poses a threat.

“Ring’s mission is to help make neighborhoods safer. We work towards this mission in a number of ways, including providing a free tool that can help build stronger relationships between communities and their local law enforcement agencies,” a Ring spokesperson said. “We have taken care to design these features in a way that keeps users in control and protects their privacy.”

Ring added, “All content submitted to our app is reviewed to ensure that it adheres to our community guidelines, including our policies against racial profiling and prohibiting hate speech or other forms of prejudice before it goes live on the platform. We take this very seriously and have invested many resources, tools, and human power to ensure we uphold a standard of trust and civility.”

In July, it was reported by Motherboard that Amazon struck up deals with local police departments to encourage people to buy its Ring security products in exchange for free Ring video doorbells and access to a special police-focused Ring portal.

A Ring spokesperson previously told Digital Trends that Ring partners with law enforcement agencies to make neighborhoods safer and that the partnership allows the community to find out about crime and safety information.

Digital Trends reached out to Amazon to comment on the letter, and we’ll update the story once we hear back.