July 25, 2021

Amazon imposes more transparency on the police on the use of images from private CCTV cameras

The first partnerships forged in the spring of 2018 between Amazon and the American police services for the recovery of images collected by individuals via cameras and connected doorbells of the Ring brand, – bought in February 2018 by the Seattle giant -, had aroused many concerns.

Amazon announced, Thursday, June 3, a measure to make the process more transparent since the police and the authorities who want to have direct access to this information will now have to make public requests.

The group markets under the Ring brand a whole range of products ranging from doorbells with integrated camera to alarms for doors and windows. These allow you to remotely control what happens in front of your home or in the event of an intrusion. Their users can, if they wish, post videos and photos of activities that they see fit to report to their neighbors, such as the theft of a package left on their porch, on a dedicated platform called Neighbors. This app can be downloaded by anyone, including the police.

Read also With Ring and its connected doorbells, Amazon accelerates home security

When the authorities want access to this or other unpublished information, they will now have to file a request that must be « visible » on the thread of Neighbors and “Registered on the profile of the authority in question”Ring said in a statement.

“We believe that transparency and respect for responsibilities are essential to build better, more secure communities”, detailed Ring. “We’ve spent the last year working with independent experts to find ways to educate customers on how security agencies are using the app. “

Read also Amazon: in the United States, videos of Ring bells can be kept indefinitely by the police

Already a moratorium in June 2020

Amazon is in the crosshairs of many elected officials and associations with regard to its impact on the environment, the working conditions of its employees and suspicions of anti-competitive practices, but also the use of its technologies by the police. .

NGOs and politicians have been asking the Seattle group for years not to collaborate with the American police, for fear that its connected cameras or its Rekognition facial recognition software will reinforce discrimination against minorities.

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In June 2020, Amazon announced a one-year moratorium on the use of this program by police, amid protests against police violence and racism in the United States. Last month, the company renewed this ban ” until further notice “. Microsoft, IBM and Google made similar decisions last year.

But a coalition of NGOs is calling on Amazon to stop selling Rekognition altogether. “Facial recognition technologies are far too dangerous to be installed according to the whims of firms like Amazon”, said Evan Greer of the group Fight for the Future, which is part of this coalition.

Read also Amazon and Microsoft deny police facial recognition

The World with AFP