Ring announced today that local government agencies will have an official presence on the company’s Neighbors app.
Starting with the city of North Port and Pinellas County in Florida and the city of Fulton in New York, the new program allows government agencies to provide safety information through neighbors, with the Amazon-owned company’s Neighborhood Watch feature alerting users to nearby suspicious activity. Crimes and incidents.
“Local government agencies such as county and municipal governments and their departments play an important role in public safety,” Ring wrote in a blog post published this afternoon. “This pilot program will allow users in select municipalities to receive additional safety information, updates and tips from a broad group of local agencies, all in one place.”
Participating local government agencies will have public profiles in neighborhoods that users can visit to view their activities and posts. Ring said the program does not allow agencies to make “requests for assistance” against neighbors. For now, it will be reserved for police departments in partnership with Ring.
While the new Ring program is beneficial on the face of it, it is unlikely to win over consumer advocates who argue that the company’s devices are a security risk. As TechCrunch previously reported, Ring has a history of sharing footage with the government without users’ consent. Between January and July of this year alone, Amazon shared images of doorbells with US authorities 11 times without notifying the owners of the devices.
Ring has been criticized for working closely with thousands of police departments across the U.S. to allow police through neighbors to request video doorbell camera footage from homeowners. Ring began disclosing its relationship with law enforcement after the U.S. government sent requests for transparency from the company.