Amazon extends moratorium on police use of facial recognition software, Telecom News, ET Telecom

By Jeffrey Dastin

Amazon.com Inc told Reuters on Tuesday it was extending until further notice a moratorium it imposed last year on police use of its facial recognition software.

The company had ended the practice for a year from June 2020. Its announcement came at the height of protests in the United States against police brutality against people of color, sparked by the murder of George Floyd , a black man, during an arrest in Minnesota.

Civil liberties advocates have long warned that inaccurate correspondence from law enforcement could lead to unjust arrests, as well as loss of privacy and icy free speech.

Amazon’s extension of its ban underscores how facial recognition remains a sensitive issue for large companies. The world’s largest online retailer has not commented on the reason for its decision.

Last year, he said he hoped Congress would put in place rules to ensure the ethical use of technology, although no such law has materialized.

Amazon offers facial recognition with “Rekognition”, a service from its cloud computing division. Customers who rely on the program to find victims of human trafficking have always had access to facial recognition capabilities, Amazon said.

Critics noted a study showing Rekognition had difficulty determining the gender of people with darker skin, research disputed by Amazon.

Due to Amazon’s prominence and prior defense of facial recognition, its moratorium mattered.

Rival Microsoft Corp said shortly after Amazon announced in June that it would wait for U.S. federal regulation before selling its facial recognition software to the police. Drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp also said it stopped using the technology in stores the following month.


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