Things that make you go hmmm
Amazon has apparently been supplying police departments with terrifying, Orwellian facial recognition technology
Amazon has reportedly spent several years hawking its facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday to accuse the company of having "officially entered the surveillance business," The New York Times reports. Amazon's service, called "Rekogniton," was developed in late 2016, and it identifies "faces and other objects in images," the Times writes. Amazon has promoted the technology to police departments, noting that officers can use it to aid investigations — or, say, track "undocumented immigrants or black activists," as the ACLU warns.
In one extreme case, in Orlando, police are apparently using Rekognition to search for "people of interest" in surveillance cameras "all over the city," the ACLU alleges. (A spokesman for the Orlando Police Department told the Times that it is not at this time using Rekogniton in investigations or public spaces). Amazon's promotional materials also suggest using Rekognition in police body cameras.
A spokesperson for Amazon Web Services told the Times that the company requires users of Rekognition to follow the law and "be responsible," and that the deployment of the technology is not so unlike other image recognition programs already used around the country. That isn't reassuring for many critics, though.
"People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government," the ACLU writes. "[A]utomating mass surveillance, facial recognition systems like Rekognition threaten this freedom, posing a particular threat to communities already unjustly targeted in the current political climate. Once powerful surveillance systems like these are built and deployed, the harm will be extremely difficult to undo."