Amazon's Facial 'Rekognition' Tool Used By Cops Is Cheaper Than Netflix
Amazon's Facial 'Rekognition' Tool Used By Cops Is Cheaper Than Netflix
Amazon under fire for selling real-time face-recognition technology to police
23 May, 2018, 20:39
Northern California chapter today revealed documents and emails indicating Amazon aided law enforcement agencies in the USA with the development and deployment of facial recognition technology.
The emails also discussed the integration of this technology with body cameras used by police.
Soon after that, the company started marketing it to police departments as a tool to fight crime, according to the New York Times. The letter was paired with the results of Freedom of Information Act requests the ACLU filed in three states, revealing documents that show that the agencies that have been using the software so far are enjoying it, and are paying relatively little for it.
"City of Orlando is a launch partner of ours", Amazon's Ranju Das recently told a developer conference in Seoul, South Korea. But among the few dissenters was Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice and a leader in the Black Lives Matter network, who warnedearly and often that the cameras could become tools of surveillance against people of color because "body-worn cameras don't watch the police, they watch the community being policed, people like me".
In a written statement, the Orlando Police Department called the Amazon facial recognition system a "pilot program" and said it "will be used in accordance with current and applicable law". "When we find that AWS services are being abused by a customer, we suspend that customer's right to use our services", an AWS spokesperson said.
Early a year ago, the company began courting the Washington County Sheriff's Office outside of Portland, Ore., eager to promote how it was using Amazon's service for recognizing faces, emails obtained by the A.C.L.U. show. The package is called Rekognition and has been deployed in some capacity-including alpha and beta testing-since late 2016. As far as we know, it can't track you in real time.
They do that by creating a database of hundreds of thousands of mugshots.
9 die in police firing in southern India
The protest, which reminded everyone of the 2017 Jallikattu protest in Chennai's Marina beach, was organised using social media. As the protesters turned violent, two police jeeps were set on fire and 10 other vehicles were also damaged in the protests.
Until recently, police use of facial-recognition software mostly involved comparing photos from crime scenes with mug shots.
The enforcement agencies shelled $400 to get the data comprising 305,000 mugshot photos in the API and Amazon charges a meager amount of $6 per month for using it, making it cheaper than Netflix. We analyse that data in real time and search against the collection of faces that they have. In a statement Amazon retorted: "Our quality of life would be much worse today if we outlawed new technology because some people could choose to abuse the technology", Amazon said in a statement.
Foodstuffs, which includes the New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square brands, has said it uses facial recognition technology in some North Island stores, but won't say which ones.
But Talbot says their office has caught a number of people using Rekognition by identifying suspects using photos and video footage supplied by victims. The documents [PDF] obtained by the ACLU show Amazon has been congratulated by local law enforcement officials for a "first-of-its-kind public-private partnership", thanks to its deployment efforts.
Amazon is one of many companies in the USA and elsewhere which deploy facial recognition for security and law enforcement over the concerns of civil liberties activists.
While police might be able to videotape public demonstrations, face recognition is not merely an extension of photography but a biometric measurement - more akin to police walking through a demonstration and demanding identification from everyone there.
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