This feature from Amazon’s Ring can keep you out of jail

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A couple of years ago when Apple introduced Siri Shortcuts, a whole routine was created by an individual iPhone user that results in the storage of evidence proving what really happened during a traffic stop. When an iPhone owner exclaims “Siri, I’m being pulled over,” it sets off a series of events as Siri opens the front camera and records both video and audio. Texts and emails with your location are disseminated to a preset list of friends and family members alerting them to your predicament and the phone is muted so that the police are unaware that the scene is being recorded for your protection.

In this day and age, Ring’s Traffic Stop is a necessary accessory

Basically, the goal is to have proof of what happened during a traffic stop if it turns bad or deadly. With a video recording of the incident, you can’t be accused of reaching for a gun or making a threat if the video and audio recordings don’t reveal that such things might have taken place. As much as it pains us to say it, in today’s world you have no idea what a simple traffic stop could turn into, and having this evidence available could help present your side of the story. And if the officers are truly innocent and happened to make the right decisions, the captured images could back up their claims. In a potentially volatile situation, these recordings are a neutral arbiter.

Ring last week announced its own version of this Siri Shortcut via a blog post. The feature is available through the Ring Car Cam. Priced at $199.99, the dual-sided HD cameras monitor your parked car for attempted break-ins and bumps. While the vehicle is being driven, if the sensors detect that an accident has occurred, first responders will be alerted. And if you happen to catch those blue lights behind you, if you say “Alexa, I’m being pulled over,” the camera will start recording and will securely store it in the cloud. The feature, called Traffic Stop, works with the Ring Car Cam and the Amazon app.

Ring’s Head of Mobile Products Nathan Ackerman, in an interview with Roadshow, said, “Traffic stops can be a time when having video is important, so that everyone remains on their best behavior. So, we developed a feature to support that.” While most of the video that you see on the news from powder keg incidents are recorded by witnesses with their smartphones, there is no guarantee that such an eyewitness will be found at your scene with phone in hand and settings at the ready to record what is about to go down.

Speaking to The Verge, law professor Elizabeth Joh at UC-Davis and an expert on policing, technology, and surveillance, called this a “traffic stop counter-surveillance” tool. “In policing, technology is all about power,” she said. “Redistributing that power can be an important means of police accountability.” The professor added that “We’ve always been able to pull out our phones… and try to record it. But by embedding it in the landscape of our cars, by simply just saying ‘I’ve been pulled over,’ makes that recording much more likely.
There are some legal issues involved, especially since passengers and others being recorded may not have granted the Ring owner’s permission to be recorded in a video. Also unclear is exactly who should have access to the video and when should it be made available to them. Ring’s Ackerman told CNET that “We’re working through some of the ins and outs of exactly when the [emergency contacts] get notified, whether they can jump in and view the live stream or if it’ll be available after the fact.”

Amazon purchased Ring in February of 2018 for $1 billion.

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