Google and Ring (Amazon) give police access to video footage from their cameras in emergencies. Other companies are demanding a court order.
Amazon gives police access to Ring camera footage
According to The Verge, Google has also admitted that it would give police access to video footage from its Nest cameras in an emergency, even in the absence of a court order. However, such a request is said to have never reached Google until now.
Arlo, Apple, Wyz and Anker (Eufy), on the other hand, said she would insist on a court order if authorities want access to her camera footage, Cnet reports.
Ring confirms media report
The Amazon subsidiary Ring has confirmed to PC-WELT that it grants the police access to the video material in emergencies. Ring wrote to us, “It is simply not true that Ring would allow anyone unrestricted access to customer data or videos, as we have repeatedly made clear to our customers and others (editor’s note: no one has claimed that ‘ ‘anyone’ has access to Customer Data.) Ring reserves the right to promptly respond to governmental authorities if the Company believes that an emergency involving a risk of death or serious personal injury to a person exists, such as kidnapping or attempted assassination, requires immediate disclosure.”
When we asked whether the German police could also use this access, Ring did not answer.
Amazon’s ring shares camera footage with police
Amazon is giving away Ring camera footage to police without a warrant, at least in the US. The Verge reports. According to this, in 2022 the police have had access to recordings from the ring cameras eleven times for emergency requests. This emerges from a response from Amazon to a request from a US Senator. However, Ring contradicts its previous statements that the police would not have access to the video recordings unless they were posted publicly or shared directly with the police, as Politico writes.
The police can request this data via an online form. If police determine a life-threatening emergency is occurring, officers may gain access without the prior consent of the ring owner and without a court order or search warrant. The Ring Terms of Service say nothing about this.
However, in its response to the US Senator’s letter, Amazon expressly states that it reserves the right to respond immediately to police inquiries in life-threatening situations. The police only have to fill out the corresponding online form and Amazon will then check the request immediately. Apart from Ring, this procedure obviously also exists for other Amazon devices, as can also be seen from this online form.
Amazon does not say who exactly makes the decision at Amazon about whether the police have access to the video material. It is also unknown whether the owners of the corresponding ring devices will be informed afterwards.
The situation in Germany? Amazon is silent
Do police authorities in Germany also have access to such sensitive recordings from Amazon devices? We asked Amazon’s press office. Up to now there is no answer.