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Amazon Ring police partnerships rise nationwide

Evie Fordham

Amazon Ring, the corporation's doorbell camera business, has racked up 677 video-sharing partnerships with law enforcement departments across the U.S., from Alaska to Florida.

Ring partnered with more than 400 police departments as of August. Now it's approaching 700 partnerships, with many of them concentrated on the East Coast, according to an interactive map provided by Ring.

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Ring's app, Neighborhood, lets police departments request homeowners' camera footage for a certain time frame but will also give the owners the opportunity to deny law enforcement access, according to the company. Law enforcement will not be able to view live footage.

Amazon acquired Ring in April. The Wi-Fi-enabled security system, which streams to a user's computer or cellphone, also allows users to share their video with anyone within a certain distance via the Neighbors app, which launched in May 2018.

Police departments have welcomed the Ring partnerships as useful crime-fighting tools, including Chief Kevin Molis of Malden, Massachusetts.

"We consider it a valuable tool for public safety," Molis said. "Is it a bad thing that private citizens, in order to make their streets safer, are investing their own money in a product that’s allowing crimes to be solved and crimes to be prevented?"

Amazon has considered adding facial recognition technology to Ring doorbell cameras, according to a letter to a U.S. senator.

The company told Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., last month that facial recognition is a "contemplated, but unreleased feature" of its home security cameras, but that there are no plans to coordinate that feature with its law enforcement partnerships.

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Markey wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in September raising privacy and civil liberty concerns about Ring's video-sharing agreements with hundreds of police departments across the country. The company has invited police to tap into Ring's Neighbors app, a forum for residents to share videos of suspicious activity captured by their home security cameras.

"Connected doorbells are well on their way to becoming a mainstay of American households, and the lack of privacy and civil rights protections for innocent residents is nothing short of chilling," Markey said in a statement in November.

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The Associated Press and FOX Business' Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.

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