Ring is adapting the way public authorities such as police and fire departments can request video clips from owners of Ring cameras in the Neighbors app. Starting next week, agencies will only be able to request clips via public posts visible in the app’s main feed; they can no longer send individual requests for clips.
Ring says this new method provides greater transparency about what public authorities are requesting, as all requests are now captured in the agency’s profile and can be reviewed by anyone using the app. Agencies cannot delete or delete the messages, according to Ring, although they can be marked as “resolved.” Ring says it restricts video clip requests to “verified public safety authorities” and has a set of guidelines that agencies must adhere to to request images.
Prior to this change, law enforcement could send private emails through Ring to owners living in an area of active investigation to request footage, which the owners could then approve or decline. While the app allowed Ring owners to decline all requests for images, these emails were not publicly available for review.
Once the change is made to the app, Ring owners will see messages from their local authorities in the main feed of the app. They can then click on those posts to securely share images from their cameras. Ring says that if you’ve previously opted out of receiving video clip requests, you won’t receive notifications when agencies post to the feed. It is also possible to completely hide the requests from the feed. In general, the change makes the whole process more opt-in than opt-out, as before.
The Neighbors app is one of the most controversial aspects of Ring’s product line, having long been criticized for amplifying everyday problems and providing a way to harass minorities. It’s a separate app from Ring’s main app, which is used to set up and control Ring cameras, and is similar to hyper-local social networks like Nextdoor.