Amazon's use of facial recognition has sparked fears of an authoritarian future resembling that described by George Orwell. Privacy advocates and campaigners have said Amazon using facial recognition in its smart doorbells could provide the perfect tool for extreme surveillance. The campaigners called the technology'nightmarish' and'disturbing'. Amazon bought the US-based firm Ring earlier this year. The doorbell company has previously filed for a patent to use facial recognition in its products.
It has been a terrible week for Apple. Not only did the tech company report its first decline in revenues and profits in more than a decade, but it was embroiled in an embarrassing privacy scandal. A much-discussed bug in its FaceTime app meant that, in certain circumstances, you could turn someone's iPhone into an all-seeing, all-hearing spying device. The glitch was a blow to Apple's reputation for security, and a reminder that our smartphones are essentially surveillance tools. Even if your apps aren't riddled with bugs or malware, your phone is probably transmitting more of your private information than you realise.
Ding-dong, your doorbell is looking a bit creepy. Ring video doorbells, Nest Hello and other connected security cameras are the fastest-growing home improvement gadgets since garage-door openers. These cameras, often built into buzzers, alert your phone when someone is at your door and save footage online. Mine has helped me get deliveries and catch porch pirates stealing packages. Earlier this month, one caught a man licking a family's doorbell for three hours.
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?