Amazon Extends Ban on Police Use of Facial Recognition Software

Amazon mentioned on Tuesday it’s extending till additional discover a moratorium it imposed final yr on police use of its facial recognition software program.

The corporate had halted the follow for one yr beginning in June 2020. Its announcement got here on the peak of protests throughout the USA towards police brutality towards individuals of color, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, throughout an arrest in Minnesota.

Civil liberties advocates have lengthy warned that incorrect face matches by legislation enforcement might result in unjust arrests, in addition to to a lack of privateness and chilled freedom of expression.

Amazon’s extension, which Reuters was first to report, underscores how facial recognition stays a delicate challenge for giant corporations. The world’s largest on-line retailer didn’t touch upon the explanation for its determination.

Final yr, it mentioned it hoped Congress would put in place guidelines to make sure moral use of the expertise, although no such legislation has materialised.

Amazon additionally confronted calls this month from activists who needed its software program ban to be everlasting.

Nathan Freed Wessler, a deputy undertaking director on the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed help for Amazon’s transfer and referred to as on federal and state governments to ban legislation enforcement’s use of the software program.

“Face recognition expertise fuels the over-policing of Black and Brown communities, and has already led to the false arrests and wrongful incarcerations of a number of Black males,” he mentioned in a press release.

Amazon affords face-matching with Rekognition, a service from its cloud computing division. Clients counting on this system to seek out human trafficking victims have nonetheless had entry to the facial recognition capabilities, Amazon has mentioned.

Critics have famous analysis born out of a undertaking referred to as Gender Shades, which confirmed Rekognition struggled to find out the intercourse of people with darker pores and skin tones. Amazon has contested this.

As a result of Amazon’s prominence and prior protection of facial recognition, its moratorium has carried significance. Rival Microsoft Corp mentioned shortly after Amazon’s announcement final June that it will await US federal regulation earlier than promoting its face recognition software program to police.

Pharmacy chain Ceremony Support Corp additionally stopped use of the expertise at its shops, it mentioned the next month.

© Thomson Reuters 2021