Despite facial recognition's seal of approval from law enforcement agencies across the U.S., recent experiments show the technology is far from infallible. In a demonstration by the American Civil Liberties Union, about 26 California lawmakers were misidentified by face-matching software built by Amazon, putting the rate of a mismatch at about 1 in 5. The results mimic a similar test done by the advocacy group in 2018 when a test saw Amazon's software, called'Rekognition', mismatch 28 members of congress -- many of whom were people of color. The ACLU says a test of Amazon's facial recognition software misidentified 1 in 5 lawmakers fed into its system Similarly, the software attempted to match their head shots against a database of known criminals -- a process that has become commonplace for the at least 200 departments across the U.S. who use Rekognition software. According to the LA Times, the test is fueling calls from California legislators to limit the technology's application in a law enforcement capacity, including its integration with police body cameras.
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.
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.
Amazon is drawing the ire of its shareholders after an investigation found that it has been marketing powerful facial recognition tools to police. Nearly 20 groups of Amazon shareholders delivered a signed letter to CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday, pressuring the company to stop selling the software to law enforcement. The tool, called'Rekognition', was first released in 2016, but has since been selling it on the cheap to several police departments around the country, with Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon and the city of Orlando, Florida among its customers. Shareholders, including the Social Equity Group and Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, join the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other privacy advocates in pointing out privacy violations and the dangers of mass surveillance. 'We are concerned the technology would be used to unfairly and disproportionately target and surveil people of color, immigrants, and civil society organizations,' the shareholders write.
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.