Ring, Amazon’s video doorbell and home security firm is legally allowed to share video requests in “emergencies” without users’ consent.

In 2022 alone, Amazon’s Ring gave video footage to police in more than ten cases without users’ consent, and sometimes without a warrant.

Privacy advocates from organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) say the request for unrestricted video recording only threatens civil liberties.

“There is no process for a judge or the device owner to determine whether there actually was an emergency. This could easily lead to police abuse: There will always be temptation for police to use it for increasingly less urgent situations,” EFF analysts Jason Kelley and Matthew Guariglia wrote on a blog post.

Max Isaac, a human resources lawyer at New York University’s Policing Project, said such fears are understandable when worried about a possible breach of users’ privacy.

“On the one hand, if there really is an emergency, if there’s an armed shooter or if there’s someone who’s absconded with a child and time is of the essence, then disclosing the data without user consent to law enforcement could save lives. Those circumstances are very rare, but I think they exist. Another way of looking at it is, often when you give police an inch, they take a mile,” Isaacs said.

The sources for this piece include an article in CNET.