Will Ring video doorbells offer facial recognition? Should people be worried?

Will Ring video doorbells offer facial recognition? Should people be worried?

Every neighborhood seems to be wired, with more and more video doorbells and other surveillance systems becoming sentinels protecting our homes and possessions.

But what is the future of 24/7 surveillance of our homes and neighborhoods?

One possibility on the drawing board is facial recognition.

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Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., had asked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to explain the agreements the company's Ring video doorbell service has with police departments across the U.S., The Associated Press reported.

Ring's Neighbors app can be and is monitored by police departments across the country as residents share video clips of crimes and strangers they deem suspicious to other people who live nearby, the AP reported.

The app is touted as a neighborhood watch, CNet reported.

Ring users can willingly give their surveillance footage to police, but are not required to, CNet reported.

To see which police departments participate, click here.

In Ring's response to Markey, company officials admitted that they have filed a patent that shows they could be developing facial recognition, flagging those who are suspicious and automatically alerting police, the AP reported.

Ring doesn't offer the service yet, but it is part of the device's privacy policy.

But in a followup letter, Amazon company officials said other competitors, like Google's Nest device, have it as a feature, the AP reported.

The officials said though that they would not roll it out until it is ready.

"If our customers want these features in Ring security cameras, we will only release these features with thoughtful design including privacy, security, and user control," Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of public policy, told Markey, according to the AP.