Amazon has been essentially giving away facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando, according to documents obtained by American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, paving the way for a rollout of technology that is causing concern among civil rights groups. Amazon is providing the technology, known as Rekognition, as well as consulting services, according to the documents, which the ACLU obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. A coalition of civil rights groups, in a letter released Tuesday, called on Amazon to stop selling the program to law enforcement because it could lead to the expansion of surveillance of vulnerable communities. "We demand that Amazon stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure that poses a grave threat to customers and communities across the country," the groups wrote in the letter. Amazon spokeswoman Nina Lindsey did not directly address the concerns of civil rights groups.
Amazon employees plan to take CEO Jeff Bezos to task about the firm's controversial facial recognition software, Rekognition. The tech giant will host an all-staff meeting on Thursday and it's there that employees will flood executives with questions about Rekognition, as well as why Amazon continues work with immigration authorities, according to Recode. Pressure has been mounting for Amazon to cancel its contracts with ICE and law enforcement agents, which allow them to test out the facial recognition technology. Amazon employees plan to take CEO Jeff Bezos (pictured) to task at an all-hands meeting on Thursday about the firm's controversial facial recognition software, Rekognition Amazon lets employees submit their questions for Bezos and other executives beforehand using an online form. They then go through the list and decide on which questions to answer.
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.
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 is actively courting law-enforcement agencies to use a cloud-based facial-recognition service that can identify people in real time, the American Civil Liberties Union reported Tuesday, citing the documents obtained from two US departments. The service, which Amazon markets under the name Rekognition, can recognize as many as 100 people in a single image and can compare images against databases containing tens of millions of faces. Company executives describe deployment by law enforcement agencies as common use case. Rekognition is already being used by the Orlando Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon, according to documents the ACLU obtained under Freedom of Information requests. Both agencies became customers last year.