Amazon bans police use of its face recognition tech for 1 year

Amazon has announced to apply the brakes on its facial recognition technology for police for one year, in the wake of potential misuse of the technology by the cops as racial protests gain steam in the US after the death of Afrrican-American George Floyd.

The ecommerce giant, however, did not say whether federal law enforcement agencies would also now allowed to use its face recognition technology called �Rekognition’.

“We’re implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of Amazon’s facial recognition technology. We will continue to allow organizations like Thorn, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Marinus Analytics to use Amazon Rekognition to help rescue human trafficking victims and reunite missing children with their families,” Amazon said in a statement late Wednesday.

Technology giant IBM this week terminated its general purpose facial recognition and analysis software products.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a letter to the US Congress that users of Artificial Intelligence-based systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularity when used in law enforcement.

Amazon said that they have advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology.

“In recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge. We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested,” said the Jeff Bezos-run company.

IBM also firmly opposed any such technology, including “facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency”.

“We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies,” said Krishna.

Often touted as a tool that can help law enforcement agencies to quickly track criminals, facial recognition technology has courted controversy for the enormous potential of its misuse and lack of regulation.

Facebook in January agreed to pay $550 million to settle a 2015 class-action privacy lawsuit against its use of facial recognition technology in a US state.

New York-based Clearview AI recently said in a legal filing that it will not make its facial recognition app available to non-governmental customers anywhere.

Microsoft President Brad Smith has time and again vouched for implementing the ethical use of face recognition technology.