House panel seeks information from Amazon’s Ring

A House subcommittee is asking Amazon’s home security outfit Ring for information about its partnerships with city governments and local police departments as well as its data protection policy.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, expressed concerns in a letter to Amazon about reports that Ring cooperates with the local entities to promote its surveillance tools and has agreements with some cities to provide discounts on their products to residents in exchange for city subsidies. He also said he was alarmed by reports that Ring “tightly controls” what is said about them in public and mandates prior approval of any statement.

“The Subcommittee is seeking more information regarding why cities and law enforcement agencies enter into these agreements,” Krishnamoorthi wrote.

“The answer appears to be that Ring gives them access to a much wider system of surveillance than they could build themselves, and Ring allows law enforcement access to a network of surveillance cameras on private property without the expense to taxpayers of having to purchase, install, and monitor those cameras,” he added.

Krishnamoorthi specifically cited a Vice report from August which said that cities and towns across the country are using taxpayer dollars to subsidize a discount for Ring’s products. He also cited a report from The Guardian saying Ring uses its partnerships to help shape the public narrative around the company.