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Amazon Shareholders Turned Down Proposals To Stop Selling Facial Recognition To The Government

Facial recognition has the potential to introduce continuous, mass surveillance throughout the United States. Vulnerable communities — including Black people, religious minorities, and other communities of color — are especially likely to be harmed by facial recognition’s deployment. Amazon is perhaps one of the most infamous participants in facial recognition software development. But on Wednesday, Amazon shareholders failed to pass two resolutions concerning the company’s facial recognition software, Rekognition. Although the proposals were non-binding — meaning Amazon could have rejected the vote’s results — passing them would have still sent a message. The first proposal was about stopping sales of Rekognition to the government, and the second demanded an independent review of the program’s civil and human rights impacts. Unfortunately, the vote doesn’t come as a huge surprise. As noted by TechCrunch , CEO Jeff Bezos retains 12 percent of the company’s stock. He also has the...

May 23, 2019

Police Are Running Sketches Through Amazon's Facial Recognition Software. Here's Why That's a Problem

When it comes to accuracy, facial recognition software continues to struggle with anyone who isn’t a white man . Amazon’s Rekognition program is especially notorious for providing false matches. In July 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that Rekognition mismatched 28 members of Congress to mugshots — six were members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Then, a January 2019 study found the program had greater errors in trying to recognize darker-skinned women. Despite that, Amazon continued to defend its software — which had already been sold to police in Orlando, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon, and peddled to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement . Amazon’s primary defenses centered around accusing researchers of incorrectly using the program, despite police saying they used it the exact same way. Now, a report by The Washington Post has highlighted serious misuse of the program — and it’s coming from...

May 2, 2019

Microsoft Won't Sell Its Facial Recognition Technology Fearing Human Rights Violations

California law enforcement will not be using Microsoft’s facial recognition technology after the company turned down sales over concerns of human rights violations, according to Reuters. California law enforcement wanted to install Microsoft’s system into cars and body cameras. The company denied the request, citing that the facial recognition tools had only been fed images of white males, which would lead to disproportionate questioning of women and minorities. Microsoft has been vocal about fears on how facial recognition AI can be used to over-police underrepresented groups. In December, Microsoft President Brad Smith called for more government regulation on facial recognition technologies during a speech. In January, the ACLU and a list of other civil rights groups called for big tech companies to stop selling facial recognition technology to governments. Amazon later joined Microsoft in the push for more legislation. It is unclear which California city wanted to use Microsoft’s...

Apr 17, 2019

A Group of AI Researchers Is Calling On Amazon To Stop Selling Its Rekognition System To Police

On Wednesday, researchers from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and top universities — including Turing Award winner , Yoshua Benigo — published an open letter calling on Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition tech to police. Amazon’s Rekognition system is perhaps one of its most infamous tools. In May 2018, documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California revealed Rekognition was in use by police in Orlando and Oregon. Then in October of that same year, documents obtained by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) revealed Amazon pitched Rekognition to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This came after studies uncovered issues with Amazon’s program. In July 2018, the ACLU found Rekognition incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress to mugshots — six were members of the Congressional Black Caucus. In the letter, the researchers looked at one particular study that found Rekognition had great errors in trying to recognize...

Apr 5, 2019