Amazon is considering adding face recognition technology to its ring doorbell cameras, according to a letter to a U.S. senator seeking to secure a video-sharing partnership with the police.
Company Sen. Ed told Merck that facial recognition is a “worried, but undisclosed feature” of his home security camera but has no plans to combine that feature with law enforcement partners.
Markey wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in September, raising concerns about privacy and civil liberties over Ring’s video-sharing agreement with police departments across the country. The agency encourages police to tap into the Ring’s Neighbors app, a forum for residents to share videos of suspicious activity captured by their home security cameras.
The Massachusetts Democrat further expressed fears that the ring could follow face-scanning technology when a patent application shows that the company is exploring a system that could alert some people to suspicious and automated police alerts.
Markey released Amazon’s response on Tuesday.
“If our customers want these features in ring protection cameras, we will only disclose these features with thoughtful design, including privacy, security and user control,” Husseman wrote.
Marquee’s questions about face recognition were part of the wider concerns of some lawmakers and civil liberties advocates about the ring and its police involvement. Amazon tried to address those concerns in its letter to Marquee, insisting that camera owners have a choice about whether to share videos. The company noted that police are not allowed to search recordings longer than 12 hours or that cover a very specific or wide geographical area.
However, Amazon added that it does not require law enforcement to delete a user’s video footage after a certain period of time. Nor will it enjoy Marky’s request that it never promise to sell biometric information to users, only to say that it does not now.
Markey said Tuesday that Amazon is not doing enough to ensure its products do not abuse civil liberties.
“Attached doorbells are on the way to becoming a major pillar of the American family, and the lack of privacy and protection of civil rights for innocent residents is nothing short of overwhelming,” he said in a statement.
“If you’re an adult, your dog is walking or a child playing on the sidewalk, you don’t have to worry that Ring’s products are collecting your footage and law enforcement can retain that footage indefinitely or share that footage with a third party. . , “He added.
More than 600 police departments have signed up to Ring’s network since last year, and many say it is becoming a useful crime-fighting tool. Among them is Marquee’s own city police chief in Malden, Massachusetts. Chief Kevin Molise says he is a neighbor of Marquee and has known him since 1970 but disagrees with him about the ring.
“We consider it a valuable tool for public safety,” Molise said in an interview. “Is it a bad thing that private citizens, in order to secure their roads, are investing their own money in a product that allows crime to be solved and crime to be prevented?”
But Mohamed Tajsar, a staff attorney at ACLU in Southern California, said Amazon’s response to the mercury raised serious privacy concerns. Amazon has told Marquee that its cameras are collecting personal information from children or that there is no way to know if they are infiltrating a neighbor’s privacy.
“Even if you don’t sell data, or provide data to law enforcement, you’re creating a system where people can express latent bias and racism and racism on a portal that encourages it,” Tajsar said.