Cops Are Giving Amazon’s Ring Your Real-Time 911 Caller Data

Gizmodo has learned that Amazon’s Ring home security system is pursuing contracts with police departments that would grant it direct access to real-time emergency dispatch data. From the report: The California-based company is seeking police departments’ permission to tap into the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) feeds used to automate and improve decisions made by emergency dispatch personnel and cut down on police response times. Ring has requested access to the data streams so it can curate “crime news” posts for its “neighborhood watch” app, Neighbors. Ring says it does not provide the personal information of its customers to the authorities without consent. To wit, the company has positioned itself as an intermediary through which police requests access to citizen-captured surveillance footage. When police make a request, they don’t know who receives it, Ring says, until a user chooses to share their video. Users are also prompted with the option to review their footage before turning it over.

But how often is one the victims of a crime in their own neighborhood? Likely not enough to stay engaged with the app for too long. Ring’s solution is to push out alerts about alleged criminal activity reported nearby in real-time, according to company documents obtained by Gizmodo. Hiring people to monitor police scanners all day, however, is presumably too costly and inefficient. To pull off this trick, Ring needs something better: direct access to raw police dispatch data. Through its police partnerships, Ring has requested access to CAD, which includes information provided voluntarily by 911 callers, among other types of data automatically collected. CAD data is typically compromised of details such as names, phone numbers, addresses, medical conditions and potentially other types of personally identifiable information, including, in some instances, GPS coordinates.

Ring confirmed on Thursday that it does receive location information, including precise addresses from CAD data, which it does not publish to its app. It denied receiving other forms of personal information.

According to internal documents, police CAD data is received by Ring’s “Neighbors News team” and is then reformatted before being posted on Neighbors in the form of an “alert” to users in the vicinity of the alleged incident. The document states that Ring’s team only posts alerts for eight different crimes: burglary, vehicle break-in and theft, robbery, shots fired, shootings, stabbing, hostage, and arson.