You can't please all of the people all of the time – that is the dilemma Ring, the Amazon-owned video doorbell and security camera company, has found itself in the last few days. Ring's controversial decision, which pleased some and angered others, was to remove a feature called 'Request for Assistance,' from its Neighbors app.
Available only in the US, the Neighbors app lets local police & services send updates about crime in the area, and Ring customers might share details of local porch pirates. The feature which is being sunsetted, to use the jargon, allowed the police to directly request videos of illegal activities taking place outside people's homes – potentially powerful as a deterrent, but problematic for civil rights.
Although it didn't cite the extensive lobbying by privacy campaigners, nor mention the worries about whether Ring doorbells were inadvertently promoting racial bias, it's fair to assume the growing cloud of less-than-glowing publicity around the company will have influenced the decision to remove the feature which presumably was no longer helping sell Ring products.
It has led to disappointment amongst law enforcers though, who had already had to accept a certain level of disappointment in 2021 when the feature forced them to make their requests via the same public route as others, hence the name 'request for assistance'.
Can I still share video taken with my Ring camera?
Yes. The police can't describe a crime on the app and ask for footage of it, but if you have caught some footage you can do with it what you choose. In the devices I've reviewed, like the Ring Video Doorbell, it's been easy to share video using all the usual features of your phone.
Eric Kuh, Ring's Head of Neighbors, said in the statement that "Public safety agencies like fire and police departments can still use the Neighbors app to share helpful safety tips, updates, and community events."