Long Island police partner with Amazon's Ring to crack down on porch pirates

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jahcottontail143/iStock(New York) -- A police department in New York announced a new partnership with Amazon's Ring doorbell to help combat porch pirates just in time for the holidays.

The announcement comes at a time, however, when the smart doorbell has faced intense scrutiny from lawmakers over privacy concerns.

The Nassau County Police Department on Long Island announced the initiative on Wednesday, saying the agency is working with the Ring Neighbors App to help catch package thieves with the help of video footage from neighborhood smart doorbells.

Porch pirates and vehicle break-ins are currently the "the No. 1 crime spree in Nassau County," Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a news conference.

"Most of these crimes get solved because of the information that we receive after a canvas from a doorbell ring, now it will be much more faster," Ryder said.

The partnership works by letting Ring doorbell owners share video from their cameras with law enforcement instantly if they were notified of a crime in their area.

Ring will notify users that "last night at this date, this time, there was a crime in your area, law enforcement is asking for your assistance," Ryder said, adding that the user will then be asked, "Would you like to share that video with law enforcement?"

The Ring doorbell owner can then decide whether to share their video footage or not, according to Ryder.

The announcement comes just weeks after Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., released an investigation into Ring's partnership with police departments and slammed the policies as an "open door for privacy and civil liberty violations."

"If you’re an adult walking your dog or a child playing on the sidewalk, you shouldn’t have to worry that Ring’s products are amassing footage of you and that law enforcement may hold that footage indefinitely or share that footage with any third parties," Markey said. His investigation also found that there are no restrictions on law enforcement sharing footage with third parties.

Ryder stressed Wednesday that privacy is a priority, emphasizing: "We do not have access to your cameras."

"At no time will the privacy of your information be given or shared with anybody," he said.

Ryder added that police will not be able to access any of the footage themselves, instead the customer can choose to share video after a crime has been committed.

If the video has no value to law enforcement, "We'll destroy it right away, we won't keep it," he added.  

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