Amazon-owned Ring has come under fire in recent years for its lax approach to privacy and cooperation with police departments around the US. As 2020 dawns, the company has promised to re-emphasize its commitment to privacy, and it appears to be following through. The newest version of the Ring mobile app includes a “control center” that offers more control over what happens to your data, including the option to disable police video requests.
Ring got its start with doorbell cameras but has since expanded into other types of cameras and home security. Following the Amazon acquisition in 2018, Ring forged its first partnerships with police departments. Ring offers a “Neighbors” app where users can share video footage in the spirit of a neighborhood watch, but police departments working with Ring can also request video from community members. While Ring has said that police don’t get precise location information or user data, it has occasionally gone so far as to give police maps of active cameras.
The new Ring app doesn’t fundamentally change the way the company’s cameras work, but it should put some people’s minds at ease. The Control Center offers a quick overview of your security and privacy settings. For example, whether you have two-factor authentication enabled, how many devices are logged into your account, and the number of shared users. You can also un-share your camera feeds or log-out all devices from this interface. This should give people some recourse if they suspect someone may have hacked their camera.
The police controls are available under the “Community Control” section of the new settings. Up at the top, you can disable the video requests. Naturally, Ring suggests you leave them enabled. When police request video from an area, you still have the option of refusing. Disabling the requests altogether ensures you’ll never get those notifications.
Technically, disabling police requests won’t matter if you don’t live in a jurisdiction that works with Ring. There are somewhere north of 400 police departments that do, though. You can see nearby police departments that have access to Ring in the video requests section of the app. That’ll tell you whether disabling requests will do you any good.
The new Ring app is now available on Android and iOS. Ring also promises future improvements to the Control Center with more fine-tuned privacy options.
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