Can Washington State Police Legally Ask For The Video From Your Ring Doorbell?

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You might not realize this but Ring doorbells once had a feature that allowed Ring to share your videos with the police department even without your consent, as revealed in a letter sent to Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass).

In recent news, Ring is going to disable a feature called  "Request For Assistance" , which will limit how law enforcement access videos embedded in the doorbell.

Kennewick Police Department
Kennewick Police Department
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This feature has raised concerns among privacy advocates who are worried about the possibility of law enforcement accessing residents' footage without authorization.

The Request For Assistance feature "allowed customers to share their videos through the Neighbors app on a wholly voluntary basis. These requests were publicly logged, and customers could choose whether to respond at all, as well as how they responded," per a Ring representative.

In the past, Ring could share the video footage from your doorbell without consent or a need for a warrant but it looks like Amazon is making a change to their policy.

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So, can Washington State police ask for your Ring Doorbell video without a warrant?

The Washington State Constitution guarantees the right to privacy, and the state's privacy laws are among the strongest in the country.

However, under some circumstances, law enforcement agencies may request access to your Ring Doorbell footage without a warrant.

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For instance, in an emergency, police officers can ask for video to help them respond to a crime in progress or locate a missing person.

Nevertheless, Washington State law requires police to obtain a warrant before accessing Ring doorbell footage, except in specific situations.

Ring reached out to us and clarified:

As it pertains to Legal Requests (requests law enforcement makes of Ring), our policy has not changed. Ring does not disclose customer information in response to government demands unless required to do so to comply with a legally valid and binding order, such as a search warrant (like many other companies). Just like many other companies, on rare occasions Ring will provide information to law enforcement on an emergency basis when there is an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury, such as a kidnapping or an attempted murder. These emergency requests are reviewed by trained professionals who disclose information only when that legal standard is met. You can visit our Law Enforcement Guidelines here.

 

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Under the Washington State Privacy Act, private individuals have the right to collect, retain, and access information they generate through the use of a surveillance system, including Ring doorbell, therefore, homeowners have the right to refuse access to law enforcement officials seeking to obtain their Ring doorbell video footage without a warrant.

So going forward, Washington State Police will have to have a warrant to access your Ring doorbell unless you willingly help out on your own.

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