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Friday, August 12, 2022

Google, like Amazon, will allow the police to see your video without a warrant

Arlo, Apple, Wyze and Eufy owner Anker have all confirmed CNET that they will not give authorities access to your smart home camera footage unless they receive a warrant or court order. If you’re wondering why they specify this, it’s because we’ve now learned that Google and Amazon do the exact opposite: they allow the police to obtain this data. without a warrant if the police say there has been an emergency.

Earlier this month, my colleague Sean Hollister explained how Amazon, the company behind smart doorbells and security systems, will indeed give police warrantless access to customer footage in these “emergency” situations. . And like CNET Now point out, Google’s privacy policy has a similar disclaimer to Amazon’s, which means law enforcement can access data from its Nest products – or theoretically any other data you store with Google – without warrant.

Google’s and Amazon’s information request policies for the United States state that in more authorities will need to present a warrant, subpoena or similar court order before handing over the data. This is also 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 a law enforcement submits an urgent data request.

Earlier this month, Amazon revealed that it had already responded to 11 such requests this year. Google’s transparency report does not appear to include specific information about emergency requests, and the company did not immediately respond to The edgerequest for comment on the number of responses.

Here’s what Google’s information request policy says about “emergency information requests”:

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

An anonymous Nest spokesperson said CNET that the company tries to notify its users when it provides their data in these circumstances (although it states that in an emergency, this notice may not come unless Google hears that “the emergency is past”). Amazon, on the other hand, declined to say either The edge Where CNET if it would even let its users know that it allowed the police to access their videos.

Legally speaking, a company is allowed to share this type of data with the police if it thinks there is an emergency, but the laws we have seen do not require companies to share. Perhaps that’s why Arlo pushes back against Amazon and Google’s practices and suggests that police should get a warrant if the situation is really an emergency.

“If a situation is urgent enough for law enforcement to request a warrantless search of Arlo’s property, that situation should also be urgent enough for law enforcement or a prosecutor to request a warrantless search instead. immediate hearing by a judge for the issuance of a warrant to be served quickly. on Arlo,” the company said. CNET. amazon said CNET that he denies certain emergency requests “when we believe law enforcement can quickly obtain and serve us such a request.”

Apple and Anker’s Eufy, meanwhile, claim that even they don’t have access to user video, thanks to their systems using end-to-end encryption by default. Despite all of Ring’s partnerships with the police, you box enable end-to-end encryption for some of its products, although there are plenty of caveats. For one, the feature doesn’t work with its battery-powered cameras, which are, you know, pretty much the thing everyone thinks of when they think of Ring. It’s also not enabled by default, and you have to give up a few features to use it, like using Alexa greetings or watching Ring videos on your computer. Google, meanwhile, doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption on its Nest Cams the last time we checked.

It’s worth stating the obvious: Arlo, Apple, Wyze, and Eufy’s policies regarding emergency law enforcement requests don’t necessarily mean those companies protect your data in any other way. Last year, Anker apologized after hundreds of Eufy customers saw their camera feeds exposed to strangers, and it recently emerged that Wyze failed to alert customers to the gaping security holes. of some of his cameras that he was aware of. for years. And while Apple may not have a way to share your HomeKit Secure Video footage, it does comply with other law enforcement emergency data requests — as evidenced by reports that it , and other companies like Meta, shared customer information with hackers sending fake emergency requests.

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