Amazon is selling its face-recognition tech to police departments

'Recipe for authoritarianism': Amazon under fire for selling face-recognition software to police

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for tech giant Amazon to stop offering their "powerful and unsafe new facial recognition system" to governments and law enforcement.

The city of Orlando, Florida, as well as the Washington County Sheriff's Office in OR, are among Amazon's Rekognition customers. Adzima described how the Sheriff's Office used Rekognition along with publicly available images on Facebook to identify a suspected shoplifter. "And possibly even to all of OR and beyond".

He showed the conference a demo of real-time facial recognition using video from a "traffic cam that was provided by the city of Orlando".

"With Rekognition Video, you can track each person within a shot and through the video across shots", it says. A spokesperson for the county told The Washington Post that it pays Amazon between $6 and $12 a month for Rekognition. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The ACLU sounded an alarm on Rekognition a year ago when Washington County started boasting about the results it was getting from the software. And now a new report suggest that the company is using this tool to help government agencies in the United States.

Skynews just used Amazon's facial recognition technology to identify guests at the royal wedding. "We are not mass-collecting".

Adopting a glass half-empty view in contrast the ACLU warns that the software guide reads like a "manual for authoritarian surveillance", warning that officers in OR now have access to a database of 300,000 mugshots - enabling them to cross reference people's faces for criminal records via their mobile phones. The county later cited this NDA to justify withholding documents in response to the ACLU's public records request.

"We are using it only to identify unidentified suspects in criminal investigations", Talbot said. When we find that AWS services are being abused by a customer, we suspend that customer's right to use our services.

Local police and the federal government have a history of surveilling social movements ― most notably COINTELPRO, a civil rights era ploy on the part of the FBI to stifle progressive organizations and black social movements.

While police might be able to videotape public demonstrations, face recognition is not merely an extension of photography but a biometric measurement - more akin to police walking through a demonstration and demanding identification from everyone there, she said. Law enforcement in California and Arizona have already shown an interest in using the technology - and it is hard to imagine that Bezos would heed the ACLU's warnings.

"This raises very real questions about the ability to remain anonymous in public spaces", Ms. Garvie said.

In a written statement, the Orlando Police Department called the Amazon facial recognition system a "pilot program" and said it "will be used in accordance with current and applicable law".

These documents and emails show that the tech giant is actively marketing its Rekognition technology as a government surveillance system, is offering free support, helps troubleshoot bugs, and provides various other services, all in the hopes of getting a foothold on the rising government surveillance market.

However, Amazon said quality of life would be "much worse today" if new technology was outlawed because some people would choose to abuse it. "Imagine if customers couldn't buy a computer because it was possible to use that computer for illegal purposes?" the spokeswoman said.

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