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The FBI is worried people are using video doorbells as early warning systems for police raids

Isn’t the whole point of a video doorbell to warn you of unwanted guests?

Ring video doorbell
Image: KnowTechie

Have you ever thought about doorbell cameras like Amazon’s Ring offering early warning systems for homeowners or criminals to detect police raids and searches? Well, the FBI has, and now they are worried people can use these devices against law enforcement, reports The Intercept.

Basically, it works like this: A cop shows up and approaches your house. Your video doorbell picks them up, giving you a clear picture of where a police officer is in front of your house. Now you have pictures of their face and their location, thus thwarting the element of surprise. This is where the FBI claims these devices are “presenting a risk to their present and future safety.”

Here’s the official wording from the leaked FBI bulletin:

“Subjects likely use IoT devices to hinder LE [law enforcement] investigations and possibly monitor LE activity,” the bulletin states. “If used during the execution of a search, potential subjects could learn of LE’s presence nearby, and LE personnel could have their images captured, thereby presenting a risk to their present and future safety.”

The FBI goes on to discuss an incident in 2017 where they were attempting to issue a search warrant in New Orleans when they noticed they were being recorded by a video doorbell. “Through the Wi-Fi doorbell system, the subject of the warrant remotely viewed the activity at his residence from another location and contacted his neighbor and landlord regarding the FBI’s presence there.”

As you can see, it’s already being used in situations like this. So yea, this is a valid concern. The FBI totally makes a point with this. But, the same argument can be made for home security systems that utilize wireless cameras. At the end of the day, if you’re approaching someone’s home, chances are you’re going to get spotted one way or another, whether you’re the police or a criminal.

The ironic part about all this is that companies like Ring work with the police and even encourage users to hand over footage to the authorities. So it’s kind of funny to see these devices backfire on them. I’m not a criminal by any stretch, but if a police raid were being performed at my home, I would absolutely appreciate the heads up from my video doorbell.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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