Amazon Halts Police Use of Its Facial Recognition Software For A Year
The move comes after Amazon came out in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and was called out for its ‘hypocritical’ stand over the issue since the company itself provided law enforcement agencies with face tech software that has been found to be biased against the black community.
This same week, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna announced that the company will completely halt its facial recognition research and services for “mass surveillance and racial profiling.” “We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies,” Krishna said in a letter to Congress. The Jeff Bezos owned company said the suspension of its services to the police will give Congress enough time to formulate a law to govern the use of such technology and offered to help in the process if “requested”. A demo version of Amazon Rekognition (Credit - AWS) “We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge,” Amazon said in a statement. Though the Seattle-based company will continue to provide the tech to protect child trafficking victims and missing children. “We will continue to allow organizations like Thorn, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Marinus Analytics to use Amazon Rekognition to help rescue human trafficking victims and reunite missing children with their families,” the company said. Softwares like Amazon Rekognition help the police officers to identify a person by quickly searching through the police database but have been long criticised for their biasedness towards African-American and Asian community members. A US Govt study revealed that most algorithms are more likely to wrongly identify the faces of African-Americans and other minorities than those of white people.