"... the research area that studies the operation and design of systems that recognize patterns in data." It includes statistical methods like discriminant analysis, feature extraction, error estimation, cluster analysis.
– Pattern Recognition Laboratory at Delft University of Technology
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.
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.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos laughs as he talks to the media while touring the new Amazon Spheres during the grand opening at Amazon's Seattle headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., January 29, 2018. Amazon has been selling a facial-recognition system to police, sparking fears that the technology will one day power mass surveillance. On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and 35 other advocacy group sent a letter to the company's CEO Jeff Bezos, demanding that he stop providing the technology to law enforcement. The technology, called Amazon Rekognition, can identify people's faces in digital images and video. Police in Oregon and Florida have been using the system to help them solve crimes, but the ACLU argues that it's ripe for abuse.
Civil liberties advocates are calling on Amazon to cease providing facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies. "We demand that Amazon stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure that poses a grave threat to customers and communities across the country", a coalition let by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. At issue is a tool known as "Rekognition" that allows users to compare anonymous faces against other images to try and establish identity. An explanatory post on Amazon's website notes that it offers "security and surveillance applications" that include "crime prevention" by identifying "persons of interest". According to emails obtained by the ACLU, multiple law enforcement agencies have harnessed the tool in their investigative work.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, has been asked to stop selling facial recognition to American cops. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos received a letter Tuesday from the American Civil Liberties Union and its supporters. It demanded he stop selling a little-known service provided by the tech giant to U.S. law enforcement agencies: facial recognition, powered by artificial intelligence. The tool, dubbed Rekognition, can recognize up to 100 people in a single image and is capable of quickly finding faces in databases containing tens of millions of photos. As per Amazon's own description of Rekognition, it "makes it easy to add image and video analysis to your applications."
Amazon has some explaining to do. The online retail giant has been caught providing facial recognition technology to law enforcement in Oregon and Orlando, according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act Request. Emails obtained through the request show how Amazon has been advertising and selling its facial recognition product, Rekognition, for only a few dollars a month to law enforcement agencies -- in the hopes that they would encourage other agencies to sign up. The emails also show Amazon has marketed consulting services to law enforcement as well. SEE ALSO: What would an Amazon Alexa robot look like?
If you're nervous about the privacy implications of Amazon's camera technology, there might be a good reason for it. The ACLU and a coalition of civil rights groups are calling on Amazon chief Jeff Bezos to stop offering Rekognition facial detection system to government customers after learning that the company is actively helping law enforcement implement the potentially invasive technology. Police in multiple regions have partnered with Amazon on surveillance projects, including an Orlando proof-of-concept that lets Amazon search for "people of interest" through city cameras as well a Washington County, Oregon initiative that lets officers scan people to see if they turn up in a mugshot database. The ACLU also learned that Amazon provided Washington County a roadmap under a non-disclosure agreement, and offered to link the county to other government customers interested in Rekognition, such as a body camera manufacturer. That's particularly problematic when facial recognition on body cameras is illegal in Oregon.