Video doorbell technologies are becoming more popular in Georgia and across the country. When people install a Ring doorbell, they can see who is at their door by checking the video feed provided by the accompanying mobile phone app. However, people may not fully realize that they are also providing this information to law enforcement agencies. Ring was purchased in 2018 by Amazon for $1 billion, indicating the popularity of the technology. Under Ring partnership agreements, police have access to a special portal that allows them to request video material from community members. Few might object to police asking for the information.
However, agreements also allow the police to go to Ring directly to request customers’ video information if the homeowners decline. While police agencies say that there is nothing to fear for people with nothing to hide, many advocates are concerned that a simple doorbell technology is actually a conduit for a massive expansion of government surveillance. Law enforcement agencies do not need a warrant or probable cause to get this type of information. Instead, it is built into user agreements that few consumers may fully review before installing their new technology.
Ring doorbells are not the only technology that poses a privacy problem. While some online companies require a warrant to turn over user data, many of the most popular require only a subpoena, where no probable cause need be shown. These include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Netflix, Uber and Venmo. People using these technologies may be opening a much greater portion of their lives to police agencies than they expect.
When people are accused of having committed a crime, they may be concerned about social media and other digital evidence. A criminal defense lawyer can work with people to protect their rights and present a strong defense that challenges police and prosecution allegations.