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Photo: Ring

Ring, the Amazon-owned doorbell and security camera device, now works with 2,000 police departments across the country. But the footage downloaded by those agencies is less than one might expect, according to a new audit from New York University's Policing Project.

Why it matters: The company has come under fire for a number of practices including its privacy policies, economic relationships with police agencies and its role in helping create and grow the surveillance state.

Details: Ring first approached the Policing Project to conduct the audit in 2020, focusing on the racial justice, civil rights and civil liberties implications.

  • The Policing Project's 43-page report says the police agencies working with Ring downloaded less than 100 hours of videos shared by camera owners so far this year. This comes out to fewer than 8,000 video clips downloaded, the project says.
  • The report also breaks down the types of crimes for which law enforcement agencies requested video footage. More than half were for some type of robbery and 16 percent for a shooting or homicide.

Between the lines: Ring has made a number of changes during and in the wake of the audit. Among the most notable are:

  • Temporarily halting recruitment of additional police agencies to bring on other agencies that can provide non-policing services, such as homeless outreach.
  • Requiring police agencies to specify a specific offense under investigation when seeking video.
  • Limiting its own collaborations with law enforcement by no longer donating devices or participating in police sting operations. Ring also says it won't work with federal law enforcement agencies.

The big picture: The report focuses on Ring, but also talks extensively about how governments need to address government use of private surveillance technologies.

  • "If a policing agency sought to create a network of cameras... it would be the subject of much political debate," the report notes. "But when police crowdsource from private devices, they can achieve surveillance with no cost, no public debate, and no public approval."

Yes, but: Farhang Heydari, executive director of the Policing Project, notes that there are far more companies with cameras without clear policies regarding sharing data with law enforcement.

  • "I’m not saying they do everything perfect," Heydari said. "But at least we know what they do."

Go deeper

Daunte Wright's family "relieved" by guilty verdict

Family and friends of Daunte Wright react after the verdict was read in the trial of Kim Potter. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Civil rights attorneys who represent the family of Daunte Wright said the family felt "relieved that the justice system has provided some measure of accountability" for Wright's "senseless death" in a police shooting.

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker