Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. Police in China have nabbed three fugitives using facial-recognition technology at a series of concerts in Eastern China, the Wall Street Journal reports. Police have employed the surveillance tool over the past two months at performances by Hong Kong pop star Jacky Cheung, also known by his nicknames "God of Songs" and, more recently, "The Nemesis of Fugitives." In one case, police were able to use a facial-recognition system to identify a 31-year-old man in a crowd of 60,000 concertgoers, according to state media. In another, the technology recognized a man who allegedly failed to pay for $17,000 worth of potatoes in 2015 and had since then been living under a pseudonym.
Amazon has defended giving its Big Brother-style facial recognition tool to police following an outcry from civil rights groups. The response comes just hours after it emerged Amazon's facial recognition tool, dubbed'Rekognition', is being used by law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Florida. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warns Rekognition could be misused to identify and track innocent people in real-time. It claims the software guide for the AI'reads like a user manual for authoritarian surveillance'. But Amazon said'quality of life would be much worse' if technologies such as this were blocked because of fears they may be misused.
Amazon hasn't exactly kept Rekognition under wraps. In late 2016, the software giant talked up its facial detection software in a relatively benign AWS post announcing that the tech was already being implemented by The Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon for suspect identification. The ACLU of Northern California is shining more light on the tech this week, however, after announcing that it had obtained documents shedding more light on the service it believes "raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns." The documents in question highlight Washington County's database of 300,000 mug shot photos and a mobile app designed specifically for deputies to cross-reference faces. They also note that Amazon has solicited the country to reach out to other potential customers for the service, including a company that makes body cameras.
They call Amazon the everything store--and Tuesday, the world learned about one of its lesser-known but provocative products. Police departments pay the company to use facial-recognition technology Amazon says can "identify persons of interest against a collection of millions of faces in real-time." More than two dozen nonprofits wrote to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to ask that he stop selling the technology to police, after the ACLU of Northern California revealed documents to shine light on the sales. The letter argues that the technology will inevitably be misused, accusing the company of providing "a powerful surveillance system readily available to violate rights and target communities of color." The revelation highlights a key question: What laws or regulations govern police use of the facial-recognition technology?
Between its cloud services and retail business, Amazon has plenty of angles when it comes to raking in the cash. But CEO Jeff Bezos' ecommerce giant has one more unusual money maker up its sleeve: Selling facial recognition technology to the police. According to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amazon recently sold access to its real-time "Rekognition" facial recognition tech to the Orlando, Florida police department, which could potentially use it as part of their future crime-solving goals. "City of Orlando is a launch partner of ours," Rekognition software director Ranju Das said during a developer conference in Seoul, South Korea. "They have cameras all over the city.
SEATTLE – The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy activists are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to "easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone." The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency -- the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon -- to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country. But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time. The tech giant's entry into the market could vastly accelerate such developments, the privacy advocates fear, with potentially dire consequences for minorities who are already arrested at disproportionate rates, immigrants who may be in the country illegally or political protesters. "People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government," the groups wrote in a letter to Amazon on Tuesday.
An image from the product page of Amazon's Rekognition service, which provides image and video facial and item recognition and analysis. SAN FRANCISCO – Two years ago, Amazon built a facial and image recognition product that allows customers to cheaply and quickly search a database of images and look for matches. One of the groups it targeted as potential users of this service was law enforcement. At least two signed on: the Washington County Sheriff's Office outside of Portland, Ore., and the Orlando Police Department in Florida. Now the ACLU and civil rights groups are demanding that Amazon stop selling the software tool, called Rekognition, to police and other government entities because they fear it could be used to unfairly target protesters, immigrants and any person just going about their daily business.
Amazon is drawing the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other privacy advocates after an investigation found that it has been marketing powerful facial recognition tools to police. The tool, called'Rekognition', was first released in 2016, but has since been selling it on the cheap to several police departments around the country, listing the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon and the city of Orlando, Florida among its customers. The ACLU and other organizations are now calling on Amazon to stop marketing the product to law enforcement, saying they could use the technology to'easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone'. Police appear to be using Rekognition to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail. But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time.
More than three dozen civil rights organizations, led by the ACLU, sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday, demanding his company stop providing government agencies with facial recognition technology. The letter comes after the ACLU obtained new information about Amazon's efforts to help local law enforcement deploy Rekognition, an image recognition and analysis service. Amazon should "take Rekognition off the table for governments," says the letter, signed by groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch and Data for Black Lives. "People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government. Facial recognition in American communities threatens this freedom."
In the aftermath of the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri, over the killing of Michael Brown, police departments and policy makers around the country hit upon a supposed panacea to racist policing and police brutality: body-worn cameras. Many hailed the move as a victory for accountability. But among the few dissenters was Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice and a leader in the Black Lives Matter network, who warned early and often that the cameras could become tools of surveillance against people of color because "body-worn cameras don't watch the police, they watch the community being policed, people like me". The scope and scale of that surveillance became clearer Tuesday, when the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California released a collection of public records detailing how Amazon has been marketing and selling facial recognition software, called Amazon Rekognition, to law enforcement agencies. Amazon marketing materials promoted the idea of using Rekognition in conjunction with police body cameras in real time – exactly the outcome Cyril feared.