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's online facial recognition system incorrectly matched pictures of US Congress members to mugshots of suspected criminals in a study by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU, a nonprofit headquartered in New York, has called for Congress to ban cops and Feds from using any sort of computer-powered facial recognition technology due to the fact that, well, it sucks. Amazon's AI-powered Rekognition service was previously criticized by the ACLU when it revealed the web giant was aggressively marketing its face-matching tech to police in Washington County, Oregon, and Orlando, Florida. Rekognition is touted by the Bezos Bunch as, among other applications, a way to identify people in real time from surveillance camera footage or from officers' body cameras. The results from the ACLU's latest probing showed that Rekognition mistook images of 28 members of Congress for mugshots of cuffed people suspected of crimes.
Researchers at the State University of New York in Korea have recently explored new ways to detect both machine and human-created fake images of faces. In their paper, published in ACM Digital Library, the researchers used ensemble methods to detect images created by generative adversarial networks (GANs) and employed pre-processing techniques to improve the detection of images created by humans using Photoshop. Over the past few years, significant advancements in image processing and machine learning have enabled the generation of fake, yet highly realistic, images. However, these images could also be used to create fake identities, make fake news more convincing, bypass image detection algorithms, or fool image recognition tools. "Fake face images have been a topic of research for quite some time now, but studies have mainly focused on photos made by humans, using Photoshop tools," Shahroz Tariq, one of the researchers who carried out the study told Tech Xplore.
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.
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.