In a document, the FBI warned that owners of Amazon’s Ring and similar visual doorbells could use the video footage collected by the systems to watch police operations,media The Verge reported. The Intercept found files compiled from law enforcement agencies in the BlueLeaks database. A 2019 analysis described a number of ways police and the FBI could use Bing surveillance video, but it also referred to “new challenges” involving smart home devices equipped with sensors and cameras.
Specifically, they can provide early warning when officers approach a house for a search, disclose the officer’s location during a standoff, or have the owner take a photo of law enforcement “at risk to their security now and in the future.”
These are some hypothetical concerns. For example, the issue of confrontation was mentioned in a report on motion-activated panoramic cameras. But in one incident in 2017, agents approached someone’s home with video doorbells in an attempt to search the area, the FBI said. The resident was not at home, but watched remote video signals to see them approaching, and then pre-emptively contacted his neighbor and landlord to inform the FBI of the practice. He may also be able to “spy on law enforcement activities” through a camera.
This is not necessarily more information than the surveillance camera captures. But doorbells such as Ring or Google Nest Hello have been toted as more mainstream devices, and they have sparked controversy over the use of cameras by police. On one occasion, Ring provided law enforcement with a “hot map” showing the concentration of cameras in an area that was said to be working with hundreds of law enforcement agencies to help them encourage users to hand over video.