The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is pressing forward with a lawsuit involving the facial recognition software offered by Amazon and Microsoft to government clients. In a complaint filed in a Massachusetts federal court, the ACLU asked for a variety of different records from the government, including inquiries to companies, meetings about the piloting or testing of facial recognition, voice recognition, and gait recognition technology, requests for proposals, and licensing agreements. At the heart of the lawsuit are Amazon's Rekognition and Microsoft's Face API, both facial recognition products that are available for customers of the companies' cloud platforms. The ACLU has also asked for more details on the US government's use of voice recognition and gait recognition, which is the automated process of comparing images of the way a person walks in order to identify them. Police in Shanghai and Beijing are already using gait-analysis tools to identify people.
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.
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.
These last few months have presented some complicated security stories, and this week we took steps to untangle them. We looked at the many, many ways in which the FBI hacks people, revelations of which have been trickling out for decades. And we broke down just how hackers were able to lift 81 million from a Bangladeshi bank in a matter of hours--well short of their billion-dollar goal, but still a hefty sum, cleverly obtained. In the world of software, Google has finally offered end-to-end encryption in its messaging products. It's Allo and Duo, new chat and video apps that use the stalwart end-to-end encryption known as Signal.
For the last few years, police forces around China have invested heavily to build the world's largest video surveillance and facial recognition system, incorporating more than 170 million cameras so far. In a December test of the dragnet in Guiyang, a city of 4.3 million people in southwest China, a BBC reporter was flagged for arrest within seven minutes of police adding his headshot to a facial recognition database. And in the southeast city of Nanchang, Chinese police say that last month they arrested a suspect wanted for "economic crimes" after a facial recognition system spotted him at a pop concert amidst 60,000 other attendees. These types of stories, combined with reports that computer vision recognizes some types of images more accurately than humans, makes it seem like the Panopticon has officially arrived. In the US alone, 117 million Americans, or roughly one in two US adults, have their picture in a law enforcement facial-recognition database.