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Ring says option for police to request footage from Neighbors app no longer exists

Ring says option for police to request footage from Neighbors app no longer exists
Ring says option for police to request footage from Neighbors app no longer exists 02:13

PASSAIC, N.J. -- The popularity of home surveillance systems has exploded over the last 10 years. The videos have become a useful crime-fighting tool for police.

But now there are new restrictions on how police can access your videos. Some are calling it a victory for privacy.

When you ring a doorbell these days, there's a good chance it's a Ring. More than 10 million Americans use the surveillance and security system owned by Amazon.

Sometimes the cameras spot four-legged trespassers, and more and more they catch criminals in the act.

"Most investigations, at this point, we utilize cameras. We've had homicides solved. We've had robberies solved," Passaic Police Department Deputy Chief Louis M. Gentile said.

FLASHBACKNYPD joining Ring camera's Neighbors app to tap into doorbell cameras

Gentile said surveillance video is more reliable than eyewitness testimony.

"So videos are good to prove and disprove what has occurred," Gentile said.

In the past, local police departments could quickly gain access to Ring footage by requesting it from residents in the Neighbors app.

Ring, however, says that option is no longer available.

"Yeah this is a big win for privacy and civil rights," said Albert Foxcahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, or S.T.O.P.

He said privacy watchdogs have raised concerns for years about police access to home surveillance footage.

"Most people put up these cameras thinking that they're going to get to look at the video feed, but what they don't realize is that these systems are just one court order away from being used as a policing tool," Foxcahn said.

Police investigators can still ring your doorbell and ask for relevant footage. They can also get a warrant and get video from Ring, or from you.

"We want footage that the citizen wants to share with us," Gentile said, adding he understands the concerns about privacy and he doesn't fault Ring for changing its policy. "For the most part, we've seen citizens want to help. They're part of the community. They want a safe community."

He said he hopes residents are still willing to help police, if they come ringing.

Ring officials say law enforcement agencies will still be able to make public posts in the Neighbors app to share helpful safety tips and updates.

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