Amazon Ring's police surveillance tieups are now on this one map

The map also shows where facial recognition technology is being used, and where it’s banned.

Alfred Ng
Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
3 min read

The Ring smart doorbell has a camera that shows who's on your front step -- and what's happening out on the street as well.

Chris Monroe/CNET

More than 50 different police departments have partnered with Amazon's Ring, so keeping track of all those relationships can be difficult. At least, until now: An organization has put it all together in one place on an interactive map, along with details on other surveillance technology like facial recognition

Fight For the Future, a tech-focused nonprofit, on Thursday released its Ban Facial Recognition map, logging the states and cities using surveillance technology. That includes Ring, a doorbell security camera company that Amazon bought in 2018 for $1 billion. 

A CNET investigation earlier this year highlighted the close ties between Ring and police departments across the US, many of which offer free or discounted Ring doorbells using taxpayer money. The cameras have helped police create an easily accessible surveillance network in neighborhoods and allowed law enforcement to request videos through an app. The arrangement has critics worried about the erosion of privacy.

Read: The best facial recognition cameras of 2019    

Until the release of Fight for the Future's map, there was no comprehensive directory of all the police departments that had partnered with Ring. Now you can find them by going on the map and toggling it to "Police (Local)." It lists more than 40 cities  where police have partnered with Amazon for Ring doorbells.

Watch this: Your Ring camera could be a part of a police surveillance network

The map also has filters for airports, stores and stadiums that are using facial recognition, as well as states that provide driver's license photos to the FBI's database of faces.  

"People want to know whether face scanning surveillance is happening in their town and what they can do about it," Fight for the Future's deputy director Evan Greer said in a statement. "The goal of this map is to allow people to turn their ambient anxiety into effective action by pushing at the local and state level to ban this dangerous tech. No amount of regulation will fix the threat posed by facial recognition, it must be banned."

Fight for the Future's map also features a filter for regions where facial recognition use by government is banned. For now, that's only in San Francisco; Somerville, Massachusetts; and Oakland, California.

The organization is a part of a grassroots effort to curb surveillance technology. It created the map with a toolkit for activists who want to push for bans in their area. 


The map shows where local police have partnered with Ring.

Fight for the Future

The map is far from complete. Police departments aren't always up front about the technology that they're using. On the interactive map, Fight for the Future asked visitors to send it any new entries to add to the map. 

Amazon partnerships with police departments go across the US, spreading from coast to coast on the map. Ring cameras have given police access to video footage in neighborhoods that never had surveillance cameras in the past. 

Police departments that have partnerships with Ring often promote the technology's use, encouraging people to buy Amazon's doorbell camera and sign up for the "Neighbors" app, where they can share footage.

Amazon has also worked closely with police to set up sting operations with Ring, using fake packages, as Motherboard reported.

In a statement, Ring said that it did not use facial recognition technology, though it's applied for a patent to do so in the past. 

"We work towards this mission in a number of ways, including partnering with law enforcement agencies so they can share official, important crime and safety updates and work together with their local community through the Neighbors app," a Ring spokesperson said in a statement. "We are proud to have partnerships with many law enforcement agencies across the country and have taken care to design these partnerships in a way that keeps users in control."

Originally published at 8:54 a.m. PT.
Updated at 9:10 a.m. PT: To include comments from Fight for the Future.
Updated at 11:56 a.m. PT: To add a response from Ring.

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