Over 450 Amazon employees have urged CEO Jeff Bezos to quit selling the tech giant's controversial facial recognition technology to cops. That's according to a new account, written by an anonymous Amazon employee, who joined other staffers in delivering a letter to Bezos laying out their demands. The facial recognition technology, called'Rekognition,' has been attracting scrutiny since May when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed Amazon had been selling it to several police departments around the country. Over 450 Amazon employees have urged CEO Jeff Bezos to quit selling the tech giant's controversial facial recognition technology, called Rekognition, to cops It comes a day after Bezos appeared at the Wired25 summit and defended his firm's involvement in government contracts. 'We know Bezos is aware of these concerns and the industry-wide conversation happening right now,' the employee wrote in a letter published to Medium.
Amazon tried to sell its AI-powered facial recognition technology to the US government to help catch illegal immigrants. It pitched its product to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials this summer, leaked emails show. The emails were first reported by The Daily Beast as part of a Freedom of Information Act request from the advocacy group Project on Government Oversight. Emails revealed the intention of Amazon to use its controversial Rekognition face-scanning technology to help with the country's security. The facial recognition technology has attracted scrutiny since it was revealed Amazon had sold it to several US police departments.
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 will continue to sell its controversial facial recognition software to law enforcement and other entities after its shareholders shot down a proposal to reel the technology in. The vote effectively kills two initiatives brought before Amazon's board. One proposal would have required board approval to sell the software to governments, with approval only being given if the client meets certain standards of civil liberties. Another proposal called for a study on the technology's implications on rights and privacy. The exact breakdown of the vote is unclear and according to an Amazon representative it will only be made available via SEC filings later this week.
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.