Amazon announced a one-year moratorium on allowing law enforcement to use its controversial ReKognition facial recognition platform. The e-commerce giant said Wednesday that law enforcement should use the controversial ReKognition platform.
The news comes just two days after IBM said it would no longer offer, develop, or research facial recognition technology. Facial recognition tech remains biased along lines of age, gender, race, and ethnicity.
Research shows flaws in facial recognition tech with regard to racial bias. Mit Media Lab researcher joy buolamwini and timnit gebru co-authored a well cited 2018 paper. The issues lie in part with the data sets used to train the systems, which can be overwhelmingly male and white.
The system worked with a near-zero error rate when analyzing images of lighter-skinned people, the study found. Rekognition was done in a separate 2019 study.
buolamwini and raji’s findings were later backed up by a group of AI researchers who wrote an open letter saying ReKognition was flawed and should not be in the hands of law enforcement.
The death of # georgefloyd and tardy corporate acknowledgment is a collective effort by researchers, activists, employees, and shareholders.
Amazon did not give a reason for the decision beyond calling for federal regulation of the tech. The company says it will continue providing the software to rights groups dedicated to missing and Exploited Children.
As of last summer, only two departments – one in Oregon and one in Florida – were actively using ReKognition. A much more widely used facial recognition system is that of Clearview AI, a secretive company now facing down a number of privacy lawsuits.
Clearview ai CEO hoan ton-that said Clearview ai’believes in the mission of responsibly used facial recognition to protect children, victims of financial fraud and other crimes that afflict our communities’.
Amazon has faced constant criticism over the years for selling access to ReKognition to police department from activists, civil rights groups and lawmakers. Critics have cited concerns about the lack of oversight into how the tech is used in investigations and potential built-in bias that makes it unreliable and ripe for discrimination.
Amazon’s cloud chief Andrew Jassy said the company would continue to sell the technology to police. Only through media reports and activists, the work of researchers like buolamwini, highlights the pitfalls of police use of facial recognition tech like ReKognition.
Amazon is ending a one-year moratorium on police use of facial recognition technology. We will continue to allow organizations like thorn, the International Center for missing and Exploited children, and marinus analytics to use Amazon ReKognition.
We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules. We stand ready to help if requested.
Added additional information around studies finding evidence of racial bias in Amazon ReKognition and other facial recognition systems. Updated June 10, 7:17pm et.