Jimmy Gomez is a California Democrat, a Harvard graduate and one of the few Hispanic lawmakers serving in the US House of Representatives. But to Amazon's facial recognition system, he looks like a potential criminal. Gomez was one of 28 US Congress members falsely matched with mugshots of people who've been arrested, as part of a test the American Civil Liberties Union ran last year of the Amazon Rekognition program. Nearly 40 percent of the false matches by Amazon's tool, which is being used by police, involved people of color. This is part of a CNET special report exploring the benefits and pitfalls of facial recognition.
Amazon investors are turning up the heat on CEO Jeff Bezos with a new letter demanding he stop selling the company's controversial facial recognition technology to police. The shareholder proposal calls for Amazon to stop offering the product, called Rekognition, to government agencies until it undergoes a civil and human rights review. It follow similar criticisms voiced by 450 Amazon employees, as well as civil liberties groups and members of Congress, over the past several months. 'Rekognition contradicts Amazon's opposition to facilitating surveillance,' the letter states. '...Shareholders have little evidence our company is effectively restricting the use of Rekognition to protect privacy and civil rights.
Facebook users who felt that their privacy was violated by the website's use of facial recognition software -- which it uses to help identify and tag people in photographs -- won an early legal victory Thursday when a San Francisco federal judge rejected a request by the internet company to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its collection of biometric information. "The court accepts as true plaintiffs' allegations that Facebook's face recognition technology involves a scan of face geometry that was done without plaintiffs' consent," U.S. District Judge James Donato ruled. Three Illinois residents filed separate lawsuits -- that were later combined -- under the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2008, which allows companies to be sued for failing to get consumers' consent before collecting or storing their biometric information, which includes "faceprints" used by Facebook (and also Google) for identifying people in photographs. Facebook introduced its face-recognition feature in 2010. California, where Facebook is based, does not have a law regulating the use of biometrics.
Cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington as he testified before a Senate panel last week. Cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington as he testified before a Senate panel last week. A federal judge in California has ruled that Facebook can be sued in a class-action lawsuit brought by users in Illinois who say the social network improperly used facial recognition technology on their uploaded photographs. The plaintiffs are three Illinois Facebook users who sued under a state law that says a private entity such as Facebook can't collect and store a person's biometric facial information without their written consent. The law, known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act, also says that information that uniquely identifies an individual is, in essence, their property.
Facebook will face a class action law suit in the wake of its privacy scandal, a US federal judge has ruled. Allegations of privacy violations emerged when it was revealed the app used a photo-scanning tool on users' images without their explicit consent. The facial recognition tool, launched in 2010, suggests names for people it identifies in photos uploaded by users. Under Illinois state law, the company could be fined $1,000 to $5,000 (£700 - £3,500) each time a person's image was used without consent. The technology was suspended for users in Europe in 2012 over privacy fears but is still live in the US and other regions worldwide.