Amazon's Facial 'Rekognition' Tool Used By Cops Is Cheaper Than Netflix

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).

But in Orlando, Florida, the police are able to run the facial recognition through the city's network of surveillance cameras, too. Its impressive Rekognition technology is the ideal tool for government entities wishing to obliterate the idea of personal privacy.

Meanwhile, the civil rights coalition wrote: "People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government". "By automating mass surveillance, facial recognition systems like Rekognition threaten this freedom".

Government use of facial-recognition software has raised concerns among civil rights groups that maintain it can be used to quiet dissent and target groups such as undocumented immigrants and black rights activists. The company has a policy to use the technology only to identify a suspect in a criminal investigation, he said, and has no plans to use it with footage from body cameras or real-time surveillance systems.

Nicole Ozer, the ACLU of California's technology and civil liberties director, said in a statement that Amazon's marketing materials for Rekognition "read like a user manual for authoritarian surveillance".

"Access for Amazon for this pilot is extremely restricted and limited to only eight city-owned cameras only - three city-owned IRIS cameras and five city-owned facility security cameras", Bernal said.

The details about Amazon's program illustrate the sprawl of cutting-edge technologies deep into American society - often without public vetting or debate.

Amazon has helped various US jurisdictions use Rekognition, said the letter, citing public records obtained by affiliates of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Amazon requires customers abide by the law and be responsible when using Rekognition, it added.

"Once a risky surveillance system like this is turned against the public, the harm can't be undone", Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director for the ACLU of California, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"It's a smart city, they have cameras all over the city, the authorized cameras are then streaming the data to Kinesis' video stream", Das said. "Rekognition Video detects persons even when the camera is in motion and, for each person, returns a bounding box and the face, along with face attributes and timestamps". As per the documents obtained by ACLU, Washington County has even signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) created by Amazon to get additional feedback about the product.

According to the ACLU, the Washington County Sheriff's Office in OR and the city of Orlando, Florida are current customers using Amazons' Rekognition software.

Those records, which include emails between Washington County Sheriff's office employees and Amazon, reveal that the sheriff's office uploaded hundreds of thousands of images - jail booking photos starting from 2001 - to be used with Rekognition. The department uses the service about 20 times per day.

The Washington Post reached out to the county's public information officer, Deputy Jeff Talbot, in the wake of the report. Company executives describe deployment by law enforcement agencies as common use case. "As a technology, Amazon Rekognition has many useful applications in the real world", the company wrote in a statement to TechCrunch.


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