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Ring changes policy to require warrants for footage requests

Now that Ring shut down RFA, the police will need a warrant to get your footage.

Ring Video Doorbell Wired being pressed
Credit: Ring

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Ring, the Amazon-owned home surveillance company, announced that it would be shutting down its Request for Assistance (RFA) tool, which allows police to post requests for user surveillance footage to the company’s Neighbors app, without first obtaining a warrant.

Ring will no longer offer a customer-facing feature that facilitates video sharing between customers and law enforcement, the company announced in a blog post.

Starting this week, the RFA feature will disappear, but law enforcement officers can still access Ring users’ surveillance footage without a warrant in certain circumstances, such as emergency situations.

Furthermore, public safety agency posts will still be public and will be available to view on the Neighbors app feed. Additionally, officers can directly request footage from users.

Ring takes great first step towards better privacy

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an NGO that champions user privacy, celebrated the decision.

In a blog post, the EFF states that “this is a victory in a long fight, not just against blanket police surveillance, but also against a culture in which private, for-profit companies build special tools to allow law enforcement to more easily access companies’ users and their data”.

Still, the EFF believes more can be done to protect user privacy, such as enabling end-to-end encryption by default and turning off default audio collection.

So, if you have a Ring camera or video doorbell, the police can still ask you to share your footage with them without a warrant, but they cannot demand it.

If you want to share it with them, that’s your decision and nothing is stopping you, but they can no longer ask for the footage directly from the company without coming up with a warrant unless there’s an emergency situation.

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Gabriela Vatu started her career as a writer in 2006, signing thousands of articles from news to guides, reviews to deals, and more. She has bylines in PCMag, MakeUseOf, Pocket-Lint, Android Police, XDA, How to Geek, Softpedia, TechNadu, and more. When she's not working, she loves listening to music and singing off-key, reading, gaming, and trying to figure out what her pets are chewing on now.

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