Amazon Technology

Lawmakers Want Information On Amazon’s Facial Recognition Tech

IPhone Live Photo Biometric Security Flaw

Democratic Representatives Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri are demanding answers from Amazon as to how its facial recognition technology dubbed Rekognition is being used by law enforcement agencies around the country.

The Intercept, citing a letter sent late last week to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, reported the lawmakers want detailed information, with twelve specific requests for information on Amazon’s facial recognition technology, including how it could be used by law enforcement agencies and the government to engage in discrimination based on race and gender. “The disproportionally high arrest rates for members of the black community make the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement problematic because it could serve to reinforce this trend,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter, according to the Intercept. Ellison wants to have some type of congressional oversight over Amazon a few months after lawmakers went after Facebook.

The American Civil Liberties Union and its affiliates and 35 other civil liberties group expressed concerns about how Amazon markets the technology to law enforcement in a public letter. The ACLU, in conjunction with the open letter, released public records that shine a light on the relationship Amazon has with law enforcement agencies in Florida and Oregon, noted The Intercept. Two police departments in those states use the technology. Ellison and Cleaver want to know which other law enforcement agencies are using the software as well as private companies that create tools for it. They also want information on any independent audit Amazon Web Services may have undergone to see if there are errors or bias in the software.  On top of that, they want to know any terms of use or restrictions customers that use the technology are subjected to. The lawmakers want answers from Bezos by June 20, noted the report. “I worry about [facial recognition technology’s] potential for abuse as a tool for warrantless surveillance,” Ellison said in a statement to The Intercept, “and the threat it presents for over-policing and targeting of black and brown communities in particular.”


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