tiptrot.com June 24, 2018

Amazon's Face Recognition Technology Raises Fears Of 'Big Brother'

23 May 2018, 07:08 | Bernice Figueroa

Harp contends the technology doesn’t discriminate based on the color of a person’s skin

Harp contends the technology doesn’t discriminate based on the color of a person’s skin

Amazon is practically giving away facial recognition technology to at least two police departments in the United States, according to new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Orlando is piloting the facial recognition technology to target suspected criminals in footage from the city's surveillance systems. Its impressive Rekognition technology is the ideal tool for government entities wishing to obliterate the idea of personal privacy.

In this video presentation, Das is seen saying the system can be set up to notify the city if cameras see a "person of interest", and it could be used to reconstruct a person's past movements. Washington County has built a Rekognition-based mobile app that its deputies can use to scan any image through the county's database of 300,000 faces.

"People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government", the letter said. By automating mass surveillance, facial recognition systems like Rekognition threaten this freedom, posing a particular threat to communities already unjustly targeted in the current political climate. ICE could seek to continuously monitor immigrants as they embark on new lives.

The city is stressing that, right now, it is only using "facial imagining for a handful of Orlando police officers who volunteered and agreed to participate in the test pilot".

Amazon is selling a product that the American Civil Liberties Union is calling too powerful, too unsafe and downright harmful to our society. "They have cameras all over the city". Amazon's push to secure a sizable portion of this market is only making things worse, and its use of NDAs is going to further distance these public agencies from being accountable to the people they serve.

In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the ACLU joined with 34 organizations, including the ACLU of Florida, in expressing "profound concerns" about the potential for Rekognition to be abused.

The Associated Press reports that software sold by Amazon Web Services (AWS), known as Rekognition, is already being used by the Washington County Sheriff's Office in OR to compare photos of unidentified suspects to a database of more than 300,000 mugshots collected from the jail since 2001.

"Once powerful surveillance systems like these are built and deployed, the harm can't be undone".

"That is a recipe for authoritarianism and disaster", Cyril said.

The city says the cameras Amazon has access to are "extremely restricted and limited to only eight city-owned cameras".

The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency - the Washington County Sheriff's Office in OR - to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country.

"They've created a little tool where you upload and it sends you your results and you can continue your investigation", he says.

Amazon's technology isn't that different from what face recognition companies are already selling to law enforcement agencies.

She said that the technology has many useful purposes, and that customers have used it to find abducted people and amusement parks have used the program to find lost children.

Adzima also described ways law enforcement could use Rekognition even more broadly - for instance, identifying suspects by using the service on artist renditions of criminals, or sharing data with other law enforcement agencies.

Garvie compared the technology to police going through a crowd of protestors and getting identification from everyone.

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