"Computers have been getting better and better at seeing movement on video. How is it that they read lips, follow a dancing girl or copy an actor making faces?"
– from Andrew Blake. Introduction to Active Contours and Visual Dynamics. Visual Dynamics Group, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
Amazon drew the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday over a facial-recognition system offered to law-enforcement agencies that the advocacy group says can be used to violate civil rights. In marketing materials obtained by the group, Amazon Web Services says its Rekognition system uses artificial intelligence to quickly identify people in photos and videos, enabling law enforcement to track people. "Amazon's Rekognition raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns," the group said in a statement. "Today, the ACLU and a coalition of civil rights organizations demanded that Amazon stop allowing governments to use Rekognition." Law enforcement agencies in Florida and Oregon are using the service for surveillance, according to the ACLU.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. Remember when Amazon mostly just sold books? Since its founding in 1994, the sprawling online marketplace has ballooned into one of the most powerful companies in the world. Now Amazon offers batteries, clothes, milk and eggs, hosting for your website, streaming movies--and now real-time facial recognition powers for police surveillance. In November 2016, Amazon released a new service called Rekognition, which can "process millions of photos a day" to identify people and objects in the images.
Billions of dollars and years of study have been poured into research trying to discover if someone is lying or not. Researchers from the University of Rochester are now using data science and an online crowdsourcing framework called ADDR (Automated Dyadic Data Recorder) to further understanding of deception based on facial and verbal cues. By playing an online game, the researchers have already collected 1.3 million frames of facial expressions from 151 pairs of individuals in just a few weeks. 'Basically, our system is like Skype on steroids,' said Tay Sen, a PhD student in the lab. The researchers have two people sign up on Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Civil rights groups are demanding that Amazon stop selling the software tool, called Rekognition, to police and other government entities because they think it will unfairly target people. A link has been sent to your friend's email address. A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Civil rights groups are demanding that Amazon stop selling the software tool, called Rekognition, to police and other government entities because they think it will unfairly target people.
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.
The arrests spurred a splash of publicity from state media, who are crowning Mr. Cheung--one of the Hong Kong megastars known as the "Four Heavenly Kings"--with a new title: "The Nemesis of Fugitives." China's police departments have been openly touting their use of technology to nab lawbreakers--a campaign that rights activists say is aimed at winning public support for growing state surveillance. Concert organizers in China have also increasingly deployed facial-recognition systems to curb scalping by verifying the identities of ticket-holders. Surveillance companies and local security agencies have experimented with deploying the technology at events around the country in recent years. The tests date back to 2015, when one company, Shenzhen-based Firs Technology Co. Ltd. said its facial-recognition system helped police identify drug-users, fugitives and ex-convicts at a jewelry exhibition in the city of Chenzhou, in central China's Hunan province.
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.