Amazon Bans Police From Using Its Facial Recognition Technology For A Year

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Amazon Wednesday put a one year moratorium on police use of Rekognition — its controversial facial recognition technology — to allow Congress time to implement “appropriate rules.”

It’s the latest in a flood of actions and reactions by businesses across media, entertainment and tech following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis two weeks ago.

IBM on Monday announced it was getting out the facial recognition arena completely, citing concerns that it can be used for racial profiling, mass surveillance and “violations of basic humam rights and freedoms.”

Amazon said in a blog post that it will continue to allow organizations like Thorn, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Marinus Analytics to use Amazon Rekognition to help rescue human trafficking victims and reunite missing children with their families.

“We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge. We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested,” the tech giant said.

Amazon’s system in particular has been criticized in the past for misidentifying African Americans. The ACLU conducted a study in 2018 where the Rekognition software confused photos of 28 member of Congress with publicly availalbe mugshots of people who had been arrested for a crime. Nearly 40% of the false matches were of people of color, the study said, even though they made up 20% of Congress at the time.


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