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Amazon Ring has announced that it will change the way police can request footage from millions of doorbell cameras in communities across the country. "Ring’s small reforms invite  bigger questions: Why does a customer-focused technology company need to develop and maintain a feature for law enforcement in the first place? Why must Ring and other technology companies continue to offer police free features to facilitate surveillance and the transfer of information from users to the government?"

Rather than the current system, in which police can send automatic bulk email requests to individual Ring users in an area of interest up to a square half mile, police will now publicly post their requests to Ring’s accompanying Neighbors app. Users of that app will see a “Request for Assistance” on their feed, unless they opt out of seeing such requests, and then Ring customers in the area of interest (still up to a square half mile) can respond by reviewing and providing their footage. 

Because only a portion of Ring users also are Neighbors users, and some of them may opt out of receiving police requests, this new system may  reduce the number of people who receive police requests, though we wonder whether Ring will now push more of its users to register for the app.