Expectation of Privacy
I am all for personal privacy, but US Senator Edward Markey seems to be a bit ignorant of the law.
None of the following should be construed that I support Amazon and Ring in this. I don't want to live in a surveillance state. However, the way the law is currently written Ring is doing nothing wrong with selling door cameras and encouraging the buyers to provide the video to the police. The first step to solve this is CHANGE THE LAWS.
People on both sides of this issue need to realize is that in the United States there is NO expectation of privacy when you are on a public right of way, or within view of the public right of way. A photographer has the legal right to photograph you, your children, your property, or anything else they can see with the naked eye if they are on the road or sidewalk. The photographer does not need your permission, nor do you have the legal right to prohibit them from doing so. There are legal rights if the pictures taken are used in commerce, but the photographer still has the right to sell the photograph, or give the photograph away for free to others.
Additionally, a property owner has the right to photograph anything that he can see from his property with the naked eye. There is no expectation of privacy from your neighbors when you are in your back yard if you can be seen from their property. It is completely legal for them to photograph you from their windows, door, or standing in their yard.
A video is just a series of photographs and is similarly covered -- however any accompanying audio is not. Unless you live in a single-party consent state it can be illegal to take a video with audio of your friends in a public place when it would not be illegal to take a photo or a video that was muted.
What this means is that a homeowner has the legal right to put a camera on their door and record anything going on in front of their house, on the street, their neighbors yard, etc.-- AND they have the right to share that video (but not audio in some states) with whomever they feel. There is no expectation of privacy, therefore there is no violation of privacy.
If Ring sets up a portal and lets users share video with their neighbors or police, and they put into the terms of service of the portal that the video shared becomes public domain, then there isn't CURRENTLY anything anyone can do about it. As public domain video, the police can do whatever they want with it, including store it forever or use it for facial recognition.
If Ring gave video to the cops that the users didn't voluntarily share, then that is a separate problem -- but that doesn't appear to be the case here. In these cases the users had already voluntarily chosen to share the video under conditions where they lost control of it.
As far as Markey's statements, lets examine them.
1) Ring has no security requirements for law enforcement offices... And why should they if the video is public domain?
2) Ring has no restrictions on law enforcement sharing... again, why should they if the video is public domain?
3) Right has no policies that prohibit law enforcement from keeping shared video... again, public domain. Besides, the video was never Ring's property to restrict.
4) Ring has no evidentiary standards for law enforcement... Not Ring's problem. The users have decided to share THEIR video, it isn't up to Ring or Markey to establish standards.
5) Ring refused to commit to not selling users' biometric data... THIS can be a problem, depending on how it is phrased. However, with the definition of biometric having been expanded to include any photograph clear enough to recognize the person I can understand why they wouldn't. Has your local newspaper photographer committed to refusing to sell biometric data? The newspaper is selling biometric data every time they print a picture of someone and then sell the paper. The photographer is selling biometric data every time they sell a clear photo of a person to the paper. Pass legislation to fix the definition of biometric data (again, Markey's job) then then
6) Ring has no oversight/compliance mechanisms in place to ensure that users don't collect footage from beyond their property... but people are ALLOWED to collect footage from beyond their property. I could see them putting restrictions in place to not point and zoom one of these cameras on a neighbors bedroom or bathroom window -- but if the footage of these cameras is being shared with the police I think that if someone did so then the local cops would be knocking on their door. It would seem to be a self-resolving problem.
7) Ring has no oversight/compliance mechanisms in place to ensure that users don't collect footage of children.... Again, if these children are in a public place there is no expectation of privacy. It is perfectly LEGAL for you to take video of the kids riding their bikes down the street or vandalizing you or neighbor's house.
8) Ring has no compliance mechanisms in place to prohibit law enforcement from requesting and obtaining footage that does not comply with Ring's terms of service... And if they did they would be illegally obstructing justice. In fact, if you or they delete footage that police have requested, you have opened yourself up for liability in the form of a charge of "spoliation of evidence".
In summary, if Ring is following the letter of law and Markey doesn't like it, then Markey should DO HIS JOB and change the law. To go after Ring without first changing the law does nothing more than create a circus, and Markey becomes the clown.