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Amazon Urges ‘Transparency’ In Law Enforcement Use Of Face Recognition

10 February 2019

Legislators in the state of Washington (Amazon's home state) are considering a bill of their own, as they wait for federal rules.

However, Punke's suggestions come at a time when the company has been criticized for selling Rekognition to law enforcement agencies despite the fact that researchers claim to have discovered gender and ethnic biases in the system.

The company said it was engaging with a US government institute that tests and compares different vendors' facial recognition technology, but that it was still not possible to "download" its algorithms for testing outside the cloud.

AWS VP of Global Public Policy Michael Punke writes that the company has demonstrated how its Rekognition service was improperly used in each of a series of controversial tests by third parties, and shown the accuracy and impartiality of the technology with re-creations of those tests. He suggests that organizations like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) be involved with setting standards for testing and development of facial recognition software.

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"Amazon is always innovating to improve the seller experience", was all that the company spokesperson had to offer by way of explanation.
Until now, the company has often defended its work on facial recognition when challenged, mentioning its value in finding missing children and more quickly solving crimes.

In New York City, where Amazon is planning to build a major new headquarters, city council members have often called out Amazon's marketing of Rekognition to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a business connection Amazon has declined to confirm exists. From the ACLU condemning it for misidentifying members of Congress as criminals to its own employees penning a letter to company heads demanding they stop selling it to law enforcement, the facial recognition system has been controversial almost from its inception.

"When facial recognition technology is used in law enforcement, human review is a necessary component to ensure that the use of a prediction to make a decision does not violate civil rights".

Law enforcement agencies should be transparent in how they use facial recognition technology. 5.

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People should be notified when facial recognition is used in public or commercial spaces. In several states, that combination is already illegal.

‪Last month, tech heavyweight Microsoft Corp announced similar principles for the use of its facial recognition technology, saying it would recommend barring the technology from being used to engage in unlawful discrimination and would encourage customers to be transparent when deploying such services.

"Our communities are safer and better equipped to help in emergencies when we have the latest technology, including facial recognition technology, in our toolkit", Punke said.

"Amazon's framework rings woefully hollow, underscores the company's refusal to properly address the dangers of its technology in government hands, and reinforces the urgent need for Amazon to get out of the surveillance business altogether", said ACLU senior legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani in an email.

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Amazon Urges ‘Transparency’ In Law Enforcement Use Of Face Recognition