Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Amazon Bans Facial Recognition for Police Use Indefinitely

Amazon has extended a ban on the use of its facial recognition tech by police until further notice amid ongoing privacy concerns.

Last year, amid a wider backlash against police use of facial recognition, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM announced they would no longer sell their technology to police departments. Clearview AI had already been drawing scrutiny for its shady privacy practices, scraping social media platforms and websites to amass a database of billions of photos it used in its facial recognition platform. The death of George Floyd was the final straw, forcing tech companies to evaluate how their technology was being used.

Facial recognition, in particular, has struggled to ensure fairness and equality. Studies have shown that facial recognition software often has racial biases that unfairly impact people of color. There have been published examples of Black individuals wrongly accused of a crime after being misidentified by facial recognition.

Amazon had initially put a one-year hold on sales of its tech, but is now extending that ban until further notice, according to Reuters. Amazon did not comment on the reasons for the move, but its decision has already been met with support.

“Face recognition technology fuels the over-policing of Black and Brown communities, and has already led to the false arrests and wrongful incarcerations of multiple Black men,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, a deputy project director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

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