It can be helpful and reassuring to have security cameras in or around your house, but there is always a chance that the recorded video may find up somewhere you didn’t intend it to. As it turns out, Google’s Nest cameras allow for specific emergency situations where the company may be required to provide recordings to authorities upon request, even in the absence of a warrant.
These situations, according to Google, include crises in which there is a reasonable possibility of bodily harm or death. The business explains:
We may send information to a government agency if we have a good faith belief that doing so will help save someone from dying or suffering substantial physical injury, as in the case of bomb threats, school shootings, kidnappings, suicide prevention, and incidents involving missing individuals. We continue to analyze these requests in light of the laws and policies that are in effect.
The people over at CNET brought out the carveout in Google’s policy while talking about how Arlo, Apple, Wyze, and Anker Eufy expressly will not disclose any recordings with law enforcement without a warrant.
As The Verge previously reported, Amazon and Google have a similar policy, and so far this year, Amazon has fulfilled 11 requests in accordance with that policy.
PT Update 1:45: Google has stated that while it has never used its capacity to share video with law enforcement to date, the firm still thinks it’s crucial to reserve the right to do so in a statement provided to 9to5Google.
A Nest representative told CNET that Google will alert users of its cameras if video is shared with law enforcement or other governmental agencies. However, Google lists a few exceptions to the practice of giving notice when these recordings are shared on its policy page:
If there are risks to a child’s safety or someone’s life, for example, we might not offer notice; in such instance, we’ll give notice after we hear that the situation has passed.
According to Google, this practice is permitted by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which permits the disclosure of such recordings if the provider, acting in good faith, believes that an emergency posing a risk of serious physical harm or death to any person necessitates the immediate disclosure of communications pertinent to the emergency.
Google’s servers in the cloud save all of the video that Google Nest cameras record. The Nest Aware plan, to which the user may or may not be a subscriber, determines how long clips are retained. Google doesn’t provide end-to-end encryption for this video, and the only local storage is only available on newer models and is only used in the event of a network or power outage, after which the video is uploaded.
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