Amazon Ring’s police partnerships ‘troubled’ security industry group

An industry group focused on surveillance says Amazon has crossed a line with Ring’s hundreds of police partnerships. In a statement, The Monitoring Association called out Ring’s police relationships, pointing to their lack of transparency.

Police across the US have found the video doorbells from Ring a useful tool for getting footage and creating an impromptu surveillance network in residential communities. Ring has partnered with at least 231 police departments in the US, according to a map created by Shreyas Gandlur. The company hasn’t disclosed how many police departments it has partnered with in total, despite multiple requests.

Unlike other video doorbells and surveillance products, police often end up promoting Ring sales through partnerships with the company. Police often get free cameras to give away to residents and will encourage people to buy Ring’s products.

The close relationship between Ring and hundreds of police agencies has become a concern for The Monitoring Association. The group is an international trade organization for video surveillance. The membership of TMA is comprised of Ring competitors, including alarm and security companies.

“We are troubled by recent reports of agreements that are said to drive product-specific promotion, without alerting consumers about these marketing relationships,” TMA President Ivan Spector said in a statement published Wednesday. “This lack of transparency goes against our standards as an industry, diminishes public trust, and takes advantage of these public servants.” Spector is also president of Sentinel Alarm.

Ring didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The trade association is calling for Ring to be more transparent about its police partnerships, and inform consumers about how closely tied to police the company is.

The callout echoes complaints by privacy advocates. Fight for the Future, a tech-focused nonprofit, launched a campaign in July calling for cities to ban police partnerships with Ring.

“When an industry association that represents security and surveillance camera companies thinks that your practices are too invasive and lack transparency, that really says something,” Fight for the Future’s deputy director Evan Greer said in a statement. “This should be setting off alarm bells for local elected officials in the hundreds of cities that already have these partnerships.”