This is an excerpt from a story delivered exclusively to Business Insider Intelligence Connectivity & Tech subscribers. To receive the full story plus other insights each morning, click here.
Amazon partnered with more than 200 local US law enforcement agencies to share the locations of installed Ring cameras and promote the product in their local communities, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.
The program takes advantage of Amazon’s growing smart-home and smart-security presence. It acquired video doorbell company Ring in early 2018 for around $1.5 billion, and has since marketed the company’s devices heavily as part of its Alexa-focused smart home strategy, bundling Ring devices with discounted Echo smart speakers, for instance.
As it has scaled up its integration of Ring, Amazon has also built its collaborative program with law enforcement agencies. Through Amazon’s Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal, partner agencies can view a map of where video doorbells are installed and then reach out to homeowners to request access to footage to aid in investigations.
They cannot access footage without that permission. In some instances, Amazon will donate video doorbells to police departments and then require them to promote Ring products to the local communities; for each consumer who downloads the Ring app, the departments earn credits toward free cameras. This essentially turns local law enforcement into an auxiliary marketing channel for Amazon’s smart home products.
The bigger picture: While Amazon can boost Ring adoption and build goodwill by partnering with public agencies on safety initiatives, we think its unadvertised sharing of who owns cameras could stymie adoption, especially among privacy-conscious first adopters.
Even though Amazon isn’t actually sharing any data without consumers’ permission, some could misunderstand the distinction or feel that sharing their approximate locations is too violating.
Twenty-eight percent of consumers who don’t own smart home devices say they’re not buying them because of security concerns, according to The Internet Society. And 75% of those surveyed don’t trust the way that smart home device data is shared, while 77% stated that the availability of information about privacy and security factors into the decision-making process.
Adoption of smart home tech like doorbells and home security cameras is still in its early days, and Amazon needs tech-loving enthusiasts to evangelize on its behalf to sustain growth. They could very well be turned off by the posting of approximate locations of homes with Ring products, for instance, or not trust that data is in fact only shared when the consumer gives permission.
To that end, companies like Amazon would be better served addressing law enforcement requests for video footage on an ad-hoc basis, rather than simplifying the delivery of data and creating the impression of open law enforcement access.
Interested in getting the full story? Here are two ways to get access:
- Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to the Connectivity & Tech briefing, plus more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
- Current subscribers can read the full briefing here.
- Google’s and Apple’s strategy to push lower-priced versions of their flagship phones is paying off
- Alibaba’s chip design could help China establish a chipset platform independent from suppliers based in the US and UK
- Amazon requires police departments to advertise Ring home security products to residents in return for free Ring cameras