Who will guard the guards? Amazon has released guidelines for facial recognition software that it wants lawmakers to consider when crafting legislation. With the post, Amazon joins Microsoft in calling for regulation of the technology, and notably, its application in law enforcement. SEE ALSO: Amazon's Ring has been reportedly spying on customers Notably, as the ACLU points out, Amazon's suggestions place the burden of "misuse" of the technology onto the people using the tech -- not onto the manufacturer, Amazon. "Proposing a weak framework does not absolve Amazon of responsibility for its face surveillance product," Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU senior legislative counsel, told Mashable over email.
What is AI? Everything you need to know about Artificial Intelligence As lawmakers consider ways to ensure that nascent facial recognition tools don't curtail civil liberties, Amazon is stepping in with a few suggestions. The Seattle tech giant on Thursday published a blog post with five proposed guidelines for the responsible use of facial recognition technology. The suggestions come at a delicate time for Amazon: The company in the past year has come under fire for selling Rekognition, an image recognition and analysis service, to law enforcement agencies, even though researchers claim it shows gender and ethnic biases. Meanwhile, in the absence of federal rules, lawmakers in Amazon's home state of Washington are considering their own bill to regulate facial recognition use. Microsoft -- also headquartered in Washington state, is actively lobbying for the state bill -- Bloomberg reports.
In Washington County, Oregon, sheriff's deputies use a mobile app to send photos of suspects to Amazon's cloud computing service. The e-commerce giant's algorithms check those faces against a database of tens of thousands of mugshots, using Amazon's Rekognition image analysis service. Such use of facial recognition by law enforcement is essentially unregulated. But some developers of the technology want to change that. In a blog post Thursday, Amazon asked Congress to put some rules around the use of the technology, echoing a call by Microsoft in December.
Last week, Amazon made the unexpected move of calling for regulation on facial recognition. In a blog post published on Thursday, Michael Punke, VP of global public policy at Amazon Web Services, expressed support for a "national legislative framework that protects individual civil rights and ensures that governments are transparent in their use of facial recognition technology." Facial recognition is one of the fastest-growing areas of the artificial intelligence industry. It has drawn interest from both the public and private sector and is already worth billions of dollars. Amazon has been moving fast to establish itself as a leader in facial recognition technology, actively marketing its Rekognition service to different customers, including law enforcement agencies.
Faced with mounting criticism of its "Rekognition" system, Amazon has come out in favor of legislating facial recognition technology. In a blog post, the company has revealed its "proposed guidelines" for the responsible use of the tech that it hopes policymakers in the US and worldwide will consider when drafting new laws. Amazon's five-step rulebook essentially calls for use of the tech to be governed by current laws, including those that protect civil rights. It also urges human oversight when facial recognition is used by law enforcement and recommends a 99 percent confidence score threshold for identification, adding that the tech should not be the "sole determinant" in an investigation. It calls for law enforcement to release regular transparency reports on their use of the systems.