Amazon will continue to sell its controversial facial recognition software to law enforcement and other entities after its shareholders shot down a proposal to reel the technology in. The vote effectively kills two initiatives brought before Amazon's board. One proposal would have required board approval to sell the software to governments, with approval only being given if the client meets certain standards of civil liberties. Another proposal called for a study on the technology's implications on rights and privacy. The exact breakdown of the vote is unclear and according to an Amazon representative it will only be made available via SEC filings later this week.
In a previously undocumented use of facial recognition software, police in Washington state are using Amazon's'Rekognition' to track down criminals with as little as an artist's sketch. According to a report from The Washington Post, police in Washington County are able to compare pictures of suspects harvested from security cameras and eye-witness' cell phone pictures against databases containing 300,000 mugshots of known criminals. In just Washington County Police Department alone, the report states more than 1,000 facial scans were logged last year which have helped identify subjects, sometimes leading officers to home arrests. Amazon's facial recognition software is being used to process criminal sketches in an unprecedented deployment of the technology in law enforcement. While law enforcement say the software has been a critical tool in expediting investigations and tracking down otherwise elusive criminals, skeptics say the use of facial recognition opens up a proverbial Pandora's Box of mass surveillance that could lead to more false identifications.
Amazon says its increasingly popular facial recognition software has learned a few new tricks, including the ability to discern when someone is scared. The software, called'Rekognition', has added'fear' to its list of detectable emotions which already includes'Happy', 'Sad', 'Angry', 'Surprised', 'Disgusted', 'Calm' and'Confused,' said Amazon in an announcement earlier this week. In addition to its emotion capabilities, Amazon says its has also improved Rekognition's ability to identify gender and age more accurately. Amazon's facial recognition software can now detect'fear' and better glean age and gender according to an announcement by the company. The improved age features offer smaller age ranges across the spectrum and also more accurate range predictions, said the company.
New details have emerged about how Amazon markets its controversial facial recognition tech, Rekognition, to law enforcement. Documents obtained by BuzzFeed News show that the internet giant provided the Orlando Police Department with'tens of thousands of dollars worth of technology' for free. It comes after Orlando decided to renew its Rekognition contract with Amazon in July, after it expired in June. New details have emerged about how Amazon markets its facial recognition tech, Rekognition, to law enforcement. As part of the deal, Amazon has required Orlando to sign a nondisclosure agreement about the pilot, meaning that details about it wouldn't be publicly available.
A new report details what privacy experts are calling a dangerous misapplication of facial recognition that uses photos of celebrities and digitally-doctored images to comb for criminals. According to a detailed investigation by Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology, one New York Police Department detective attempted to identify a suspect by scanning the face of actor Woody Harrelson. After footage from a security camera failed to produce results in a facial recognition scan, the detective used Google images of what he concluded to be the suspects celebrity doppelganger -- Woody Harrelson -- to run a test. The system turned up a match, says the report, who was eventually arrested on charges of petit larceny. In a new report from Georgetown University, an investigation shows that police have used celebrities to help its facial recognition software identify suspects.