Can police ask for your doorbell video? It depends

As video doorbells and home security cameras grow in popularity, police departments are increasingly asking for homeowners’ videos. But can they get it without your permission? The answer isn’t so simple.

The Ring app has a neighborhood watch-style social network called “Neighbors.” Law enforcement uses that network to request videos from users.

Ring now has more than 2,500 partnerships with local law enforcement agencies. But the program has come under fire by some social justice and digital rights groups who feel it unfairly targets communities of color.

So if the police ask for your video, do you have to give it to them? Consumer Reports says, legally, no.

“If police ask for your footage, you can choose to share it with them, or you can simply ignore the request,” said Consumer Reports’ Dan Wroclawski.

If you don’t share the video, Ring says it won’t give law enforcement access to your cameras, your videos, or any of your personal information. And police never have access to a live feed of your Ring cameras.

But police can still get the video without your consent. If your footage is stored in the cloud on manufacturers’ servers, police can get it in two ways: through a search warrant or a subpoena, or they can cite a federal law that allows manufacturers to share footage in a potentially life-threatening emergency.

If the footage is stored locally on your camera, police may have to come to you directly to request it or serve a warrant.

If you have a Ring camera, you can opt out of receiving requests for your footage from law enforcement. In the Ring app’s control center settings, scroll down to public safety and toggle off “Request for Assistance Email Notifications.”

WATCH: How to install a doorbell camera

Consumer Reports shows you how to install a doorbell camera.

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