At the very least, Amazon seems to be listening.
After years of criticism from civil liberties groups and privacy advocates, Amazon will no longer let police privately ask users of its Ring products such as smart doorbells to share video footage their cameras have captured. Instead, police will have to make those requests in public via Ring’s Neighbors app, where anyone—including people who don’t own any Ring products—can see them.
Amazon is also setting some boundaries on what police can ask for in the first place. They can’t seek footage from longer than a 12-hour period or from areas that are more than a half-mile from an incident, and each request must relate to a specific active investigation. Amazon also says police can’t “intentionally” ask for information about protests or other lawful activities.
For a company that seemed blissfully ignorant of civil liberties concerns in the past—ignoring substantive criticisms and treating them more as PR problems—those are welcome changes. Still, some of Amazon’s critics say the company isn’t going far enough to fix what they see as an unchecked system for people to spy on one another. They also don’t think the new system obviates the need for stricter regulations around private surveillance cameras.