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Amazon Ring Sharing Camera Footage Without Consent

Originally founded in 2013 and purchased by Amazon in 2018, the Amazon Ring is a smart doorbell that doubles as a video surveillance device. Not only does it ensure that all of your packages are delivered on time and without damage, but they’ve been used in a number of legal cases to date. While there’s no denying the added security that comes with installing an Amazon Ring at your front door, there is a bit of controversy, too.

Controversial Privacy Policies

According to Amazon, their official policy states that they’ll only share camera footage if the original owner agrees or if a judge specifically signs a search warrant for the video – and this is how it should be. In practice, however, their standards seem to be a little bit different.

Their official policy continues on to say that they reserve the right to share surveillance video with law enforcement personnel in emergency situations – including scenarios that could result in serious injury or death. Beyond that, however, the company has done little to clarify their precise definition of an emergency situation.

In fact, they’ve recently denied a request – made by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., to elaborate any further. They did, however, reveal no less than 11 cases in 2022 where they shared video data with law enforcement – even in the absence of written permission or a judge’s court order.

Markey was quoted as saying: “I’m deeply concerned to learn that the company has repeatedly disclosed users’ recordings to law enforcement without requiring the users’ permission. This revelation is particularly troubling given that the company has previously admitted to having no policies that restrict how law enforcement can use Ring users’ footage, no data security requirements for law enforcement entities that have users’ footage, and no policies that prohibit law enforcement officers from keeping Ring users’ footage forever.”

How Does the Amazon Ring Work?

The BBC recently submitted a data request to Amazon regarding the exact functionality of the Ring doorbell. According to this request, the typical Ring camera captures any motion happening in front of the camera sensors, any use of the doorbell, and any on-demand actions initiated by the user – such as a opening up a live video feed or using audio to communicate remotely with a guest.

Not only does the Ring log all of these events, including the exact type, the time, and the duration of each event, but they also collect data whenever the Ring app is used. This includes any time the app is opened, whenever a user zooms in, and more.

Finally, the Ring also documents the exact latitude and longitude coordinates of both the installed Ring device and the device that is using the Ring app. It’s so precise that it’s capable of locating a specific device within 0.00001mm. However, it’s generally unable to distinguish between multiple devices that are used within the same building.

Users who maintain a paid subscription can download video clips for up to 30 days after the initial recording is made, but the files are deleted after that. Users who don’t subscribe to a plan will not have any data saved.


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