Amazon Is Selling Facial Recognition Software to US Law Enforcement

'Recipe for authoritarianism': Amazon under fire for selling face-recognition software to police

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundations of California (ACLU) said Amazon's Rekognition raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns.

Using public records requests, ACLU's California chapter obtained more than a hundred pages of documents showing Amazon's work with law enforcement agencies in Orlando, Fla., and OR to deploy the technology, which Amazon calls "Rekognition".

"Amazon should never be in the business of aiding and abetting racial discrimination and xenophobia - but that's exactly what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is doing when he sells these loosely regulated facial recognition tools to local police departments". In another incident, OR police identified a man who used a stolen credit card, despite the low-resolution image of the suspect.

'Recipe for authoritarianism': Amazon under fire for selling face-recognition software to police
Amazon defends providing police facial recognition tech

"To be clear, this partnership with Amazon includes testing to see if the technology even works", Bernal said. Users upload their surveillance video or photos onto an Amazon S3 cloud server, and Rekognition then analyzes the images against existing databases to identify individuals, objects and text.

The ACLU says, "People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government".

Nonetheless, documents obtained by the ACLU show that Amazon continued to privately market Rekognition as a surveillance solution to law enforcement, with a primer on its facial recognition system.

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Amazon's response is clear: if a client is using Rekognition in an unlawful or irresponsible manner, it will put a stop to it.

Similarly, Amazon defended Rekognition's in a statement referencing its use in finding abducted persons and helping broadcasters identifying guests at last weekend's wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

"Our quality of life would be much worse today if we outlawed new technology because some people could choose to abuse the technology", the spokesperson added. Jessica Garcia, a spokeswoman for Mayor Buddy Dyer, said the pilot did not require City Council approval and no city funding has been used for the test.

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The statement also says the department "is not using the technology in an investigative capacity or in any public spaces at this time". It can track up to 100 people in real-time camera footage, according to the company's marketing materials, even when their faces aren't visible or they've exited and reentered the scene.

Hooked up to cameras on a businesses premises, the technology stores biometric data that enables people's faces to be recognised when they return.

In China, authorities have created a digital surveillance system able to use a variety of biometric data - from photos and iris scans to fingerprints - to keep close tabs on the movements of the entire population, and uses it to publicly identify lawbreakers and jaywalkers. We are a subscriber to the stream. The Orlando Police Department began a pilot program previous year with the Rekognition technology in what police chief John Mina called a "first-of-its-kind public-private partnership".

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The city hopes to use the programs with current city resources "to provide real-time detection and notification of persons-of-interests, further increasing public safety, and operational efficiency opportunities for the City of Orlando". "By automating mass surveillance, facial recognition systems like Rekognition threaten this freedom". "This does show that the product is smart enough to know that it isn't a drawing or something like that, but what I would really like to get back is "Dragon" or "Flower" or anything like that".

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