Google, like Amazon, will let police watch your videos without a warrant

Eufy owners Arlo, Apple, Wyze, and Anker, all confirmed cnet That they won’t give authorities access to your smart home camera footage unless they are shown a warrant or court order. If you’re wondering why they’re specifying this, it’s because we’ve now learned that Google and Amazon are doing the exact opposite: they allow the police to get this data. without A warrant if the police claim there is an emergency.

Earlier this month my colleague Sean Hollister wrote about how Amazon, the company behind smart doorbells and security systems, would actually give police warrantless access to footage of customers in those “emergency” situations. and like cnet Now points out, Google’s privacy policy has a similar carving out as Amazon’s, meaning law enforcement can access data from its Nest products — or theoretically any other data you store with Google — without a warrant. .

Google and Amazon’s information request policies for the US state that majority of In cases, officers must present a warrant, subpoena or similar court order before handing over the data. The same is true for Apple, Arlo, Anker and Wyze – they would be breaking the law if they didn’t. Unlike those companies, however, Google and Amazon will make exceptions if someone submits an emergency request for law enforcement data.

Earlier this month, Amazon revealed that it has already fulfilled 11 such requests this year. It appears that Google’s transparency report does not specifically include information about emergency requests, and the company did not immediately respond. ledgeRequests for comment on how many have been completed.

Here’s what Google’s Information Request Policy has to say about “Emergency Information Requests:”

We may provide information to a government agency if we reasonably believe we can prevent someone from dying or serious bodily harm – for example, bomb threats, school shootings, kidnappings, suicide prevention and In case of missing persons cases. We still consider these requests in light of applicable laws and our policies

An unnamed Nest spokesperson told cnet that the company endeavors to give notice to its users when providing their data in these circumstances (although it states that in emergency cases that notice may not come until Google hears that “the emergency has passed”) . Amazon, on the other hand, declined to tell either. ledge either cnet Will it also let its users know that it lets the police access their videos.

Legally, a company is allowed to share such data with the police if it thinks there is an emergency, but the laws we have seen do not force companies to share it. Maybe that’s why Arlo is backing down against Amazon and Google’s practices and suggesting that police warrant should be given If the situation is truly an emergency.

“If any situation is sufficient for law enforcement to request a warrantless search of Arlo’s property, this situation must also be urgent for law enforcement or prosecuting attorneys to warrant an urgent hearing from a judge to issue a warrant.” can be requested. on Arlo,” the company reported. cnet, Amazon told cnet That it declines certain emergency requests “when we believe law enforcement can rapidly obtain and serve such a demand.”

Meanwhile, Apple and Anker’s Eufy claim they don’t have access to users’ videos, due to the fact that their systems use end-to-end encryption by default. Despite all of Ring’s partnerships with the police, you can do Turn on end-to-end encryption for some of its products, though it does have a lot of caveats. For one, this feature doesn’t work with its battery-powered cameras, which, you know, is pretty much the thing everyone thinks of when they think of the Ring. It’s also not turned on by default, and you’ll have to skip some features to use it, like using Alexa Greetings, or watching Ring videos on your computer. Meanwhile, Google doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption on its Nest Cam, which we checked last time.

It’s worth stating the obvious: Arlo, Apple, Wyze, and Eufy’s policies around emergency requests from law enforcement don’t mean these companies are protecting your data in other ways. Last year, after hundreds of Eufy customers exposed their cameras’ feeds to strangers, Anker apologized, and it was recently revealed that Wyze was unable to alert its customers to security flaws in some of its cameras. failed, which he knew about for years, And while there may be no way for Apple to share your HomeKit Secure video footage, it does comply with other emergency data requests from law enforcement — as evidenced by reports that it and other companies like Meta have created fake emergencies. In case the customer information is shared with the hackers who send the request.

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