Privacy questions answered after video doorbell company partners with metro-area police

DENVER -- This week, the video doorbell company "Ring" announced it has partnered with over 400 police agencies nationwide, including Denver and Columbine Valley police in Colorado.

Because of questions over privacy, the FOX31 Problem Solvers asked metro-area police departments what access they really have to video doorbells.

QUESTION #1

Can police access live feeds of doorbells? 

ANSWER #1

No. Police have no access to any live feed of a Ring doorbell.

QUESTION #2 

Are you more likely to be contacted by police if you live in Denver or Columbine Valley and have a Ring doorbell? 

ANSWER #2

Yes. However, police do not have access to where the cameras are specifically located. What officers can do is send out a blast alert via the "Neighbors" app, which is affiliated with Ring. The alert message sent by police can be tailored to a specific area where a crime happened.

"We may send out information about a crime that occurred," Commander Rick Kyle with Denver police said. "We can send it out to the whole district if we want or a single block -- whatever we feel is appropriate for the type of crime that occurred."

QUESTION #3 

Do Ring users have to comply with police requests? 

Answer #3

No.

"Purely voluntary on the part of the public. There is nothing that we can access outside of someone sending us something," Kyle said.

QUESTION #4 

Is the Ring partnership helping solve cases? 

Answer #4

Yes. While Denver has not yet reported a cleared case, Columbine Valley police officials say it helped solve a package theft case.

QUESTION #5 

Are any privacy concerns being raised?

Answer #5

Yes. The American Civil Liberties Union does not believe any laws are being broken but they do believe allowing police to have access to doorbell cameras can be a slippery slope.

"I just want people to understand that in sharing it with police, they have no control where it goes beyond that and people need to be aware of privacy implications," Denise Maes, policy director with the ACLU of Colorado, said.

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