Ring just announced that it will be removing its Request for Assistance (RFA) tool from its Neighbors app as part of a new update. This means that Public safety agencies like fire and police departments can no longer use the feature to request and receive video in the app. This is a surprising reversal on a tool that has been a major point of contention for Ring since it was released in 2021.
Ring has been scaling back its involvement with law enforcement agencies over the years due to privacy concerns. Prior to 2021, police were able to submit a request to Ring to review footage from the company's cameras; Ring would then pass on the request to homeowners in the vicinity, who could then choose to share their video if they wanted.
Ring discontinued this in June 2021 with the request for assistance feature in the Neighbors app, whereby any agency asking for video would have to do so publicly in the Neighbors app; it was believed that this transparency would help alleviate concerns that Ring was helping to promote a police-like surveillance state. Now, it's going even further, and eliminating the feature entirely.
According to Ring, "Public safety agencies like fire and police departments can still use the Neighbors app to share helpful safety tips, updates, and community events," but "they will no longer be able to use the RFA tool to request and receive video in the app."
With that said, the police can still request footage without your consent, as was revealed in 2022, when Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released findings that indicate Ring provided law enforcement with user footage 11 times without consent from users or a warrant from a judge. This isn't exclusive to Ring, as other security camera companies have also handed over footage to law enforcement.
There is a way around this; you can prevent anyone — law enforcement included — from viewing your footage by enabling end-to-end encryption on Ring, but this will disable other features, such as being able to view a live feed from your video doorbell on a smart display.
Ring also announced a new category called Ring Moments, that it says will turn the Neighbors app into a more entertaining social media platform. Ring Moments allows posts beyond crime and safety so anyone can share clips that they may find funny or heartwarming. Popular content will make its way to a new Best of Ring in-app tile, which shares videos curated by the company.
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Hunter Fenollol is a Senior Editor for Tom’s Guide. He specializes in smart home gadgets and appliances. Prior to joining the team, Hunter reviewed computers, wearables, and mixed reality gear for publications that include CNN Underscored, Popular Mechanics, and Laptop Magazine. When he’s not testing out the latest cooking gadgets, you can likely find him playing a round of golf or out with friends feeding his paycheck to a QuickHit slot machine.
Hunter started his career as an intern at Tom’s Guide back in 2019 while in college. He graduated from Long Island University Post with a degree in Communications and minor in Advertising. He has been vlogging ever since the iPhone 4 took front-facing cameras mainstream.
this is likely the police STILL doing it. the RING doorbell was also capturing police brutality. lawyers looking to sue cops cant get it eitherReply
This is one of the many reasons why I will never ever have a ring camera. All your ring camera videos are sent to a server somewhere in China, where who knows who can view videos of YOU going into and out of your house. Criminals can form shell companies, and buy access to those ring videos knowing when you leave your house. TALK ABOUT AN INVASION OF PRIVACY!!! No, I will not! When Ring allows me to keep MY VIDEOS in my computer, and not ship them off to China, then maybe. But until then (if ever), I'll pass on RING.Reply