Amazon will not supply facial recognition software to police for a year

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Amazon will stop supplying facial recognition software to police for at least a year. The company wants the US government to first come up with good legislation around the sensitive subject. Amazon has been under fire for some time for making the software.

In a short blog post, the company writes that it is temporarily halting the use of the technology by the police. It concerns the software Rekognition. It was designed by the company and runs on Amazon’s own servers. Amazon does make the software available to other parties it works with. These include organizations that use Rekognition to detect child abuse, such as Thorn, which develops its own tools, and the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Amazon only cites the reason that it hopes the US Congress will pass regulations on facial recognition. “Governments should have better regulation to account for the ethical use of facial recognition technology,” the company writes. Amazon says the government has indicated “in recent days” that it is willing to introduce such regulation.

That is a reference to the protests that erupted all over America after the death of George Floyd. In the US, the police are cracking down on protesters and rioters. Although there are few concrete cases where facial recognition is used for that purpose, politicians and human rights activists are concerned about the availability of the technology.

Incidentally, the initiative to stop facial recognition does not only come from Amazon. Activists and lawyers have argued and litigated against its use by governments and its development by major tech companies for years. Earlier this week, IBM stopped developing the technology for fear of mass surveillance.

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