Amazon’s Ring is allying with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the US to post missing child posters directly in the Neighbors app by Ring. The app is freely available for local communities so that they can share news about local crime and other safety incidents and is accessible to everyone, not just people who own a product by Ring such as video doorbell or camera.
NCMEC works to find missing children in the US by operating a 24-hour hotline (1-800-THE-LOST) and it shares information about missing kids through AMBER Alerts and social media posts. The new partnership with Ring will amplify NCMEC’s reach to the app’s community. As it consists of millions of people in the US, including people that have access to Ring’s video doorbell and security camera, NCMEC can fetch crucial information through the app.
How Ring helped a missing child
Recently, Ring helped reunite a family with their missing child in Albuquerque, New Mexico. However, this particular case didn’t involve abduction; the missing 14-year-old boy had been waiting for his dad to pick him up at the wrong gas station. The child did not have a working phone or his parents’ numbers; therefore, he had no way to contact anyone when his dad didn’t show up. Furthermore, he didn’t ask for help. The family reached out to the police and posted a notice to the Ring Neighbors app. Another app user spotted the child and notified his parents of his whereabouts.
With the new alliance, NCMEC wishes to incorporate this sort of information-sharing into their system, that already takes place in Ring’s Neighbors app. As users share the alerts with community members they saw elsewhere, or post for help about their missing kids, as in the above case.
All users, whose neighborhoods fall within the area of interest will be able to see NCMEC’s missing kids’ posters, said Ring. Users will also be prompted to contact the authorities if they have any information that could help in the search. According to the FBI, there were 424,066 cases of missing kids reported to law enforcement in 2018, Ring adds.
Ring Required such Collaboration
The partnership was crucial for the rehab of Ring’s public image.
The Amazon-owned company has been under scrutiny for its deals with the police, which invited a congressional investigation, as well as for its plans around the potential use of facial recognition technology.
More recently, Ring doorbells were found to have bared home Wi-Fi passwords to hackers. As Ring doesn’t require two-factor authentication for increased security measures (it’s optional), hackers who had access to username and passwords for Ring devices used that information to attack and harass customers across the U.S.
These attacks resulted in many consumers and privacy groups issuing a product warning about Ring cameras, according to the warning, Ring’s hidden data shared by its Neighbors app includes the location of devices.
Despite these serious problems, Ring has an active and growing user base for its app. Neighbors has been installed 7 million times in the U.S., according to Sensor Tower. More than 10 million Ring doorbells, meanwhile, have been installed worldwide.
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