One of the most recognizable police forces is joining Ring’s Neighbors app. The New York Police Department has announced that it will participate in Ring’s neighborhood watch tool. Officers won’t look for posts “around the clock,” but they will respond to users’ crime and safety concerns, post notices and ask for help with “active police matters.”
The move potentially gives the NYPD another way to interact with the community. It may also obtain footage of criminal activity that it wouldn’t otherwise have, with maps and timelines that could help pinpoint crime sprees and trends.
There’s already opposition to the NYPD’s participation, however. The New York-based Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) is concerned support for Neighbors will lead to more police violence, racial profiling and vigilantes. The technology “isn’t keeping people safe” and even puts people in danger, Executive Director Albert Fox Cahn claims. He cites an incident in October where a father and son shot at a woman in response to a Ring doorbell notification. The woman delivered a package sent to the wrong address.
Ring has previously stressed that device users aren’t required to share footage, and it has addressed some worries about enabling police surveillance by requiring public, narrowly focused requests within 12 hours of incidents. There are still fears Ring cameras and doorbells are collecting footage of innocent passers-by, though, and that Neighbors users may be racially biased when reporting suspicious behavior. The company has also grappled with a number of security flaws, including a bug that exposed precise locations.
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