Daily Management Review

One Year Moratorium On Police Use Of Its Facial Recognition Tech By Amazon


One Year Moratorium On Police Use Of Its Facial Recognition Tech By Amazon
A moratorium for one year on the use of Amazon’s facial recognition technology for use by the police will be implemented, the United States based tech giant has said. The company had earlier defended its business of facial recognition but, according to analysts, it was prompted to take this decision because of massive country wide protests against brutality against people of color by law enforcement agencies of the US. 
It has been more than two years that civil liberties organizations and activists have been protesting against the use of the technology and software of the company by the police in the US over concerns that flaws in the artificial intelligence driven software for facial recognition could lead to inaccurate matches which could result in unjust arrests.
These concerns that facial recognition would be used unfairly against protesters raged up once again in the US during countrywide protests against the death of George Floyd, a black man, who died under the knee of a white police officer last month and as videos of the incident became viral throughout the country as well as the world.
A past study which clearly pointed out the deficiency and inaccuracy in Amazon’s “Rekognition” service in identifying the gender of individuals with darker skin have recently been raked up by critics of the technology during the recent protests. That study has been challenged by Amazon.
It has pushed for regulations to ensure the software was used ethically, said Amazon in a statement. The largest e-commerce company of he world is also a provider of cloud computing technology and services through its Amazon Web Services division.
“We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested,” Amazon said.
US Congress has been considering possible regulation of the technology for months. In  a letter to US lawmakers on Monday, another US tech giant IBM said that it would be exiting the business of facial recognition while its rival Microsoft Corp has refused some business offers for the technology and supported regulations but has stopped short of a moratorium.
While calling for a more “blanket” moratorium, Amazon’s measure was applauded by Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
“Face recognition technology gives governments the unprecedented power to spy on us,” Ozer said in a statement. “We urge Microsoft and other companies to join IBM, Google, and Amazon in moving towards the right side of history.”
There were no comments available from Microsoft.
The brunt of the criticism against government use of facial recognition technology has been faced by Amazon because of to its prominence and defense of facial recognition. That gave some symbolic significance to the latest announcement over facial recognition technology of the company.
However, companies such as Idemia and NEC Corp are still known to have more facial recognition business with government agencies, including law enforcement agencies.
According to news site The Information, about $3 million of Amazon’s $25.7 billion in cloud revenue in 2018 was accounted for by the private-sector sales of Rekognition.
Amazon was “throwing us under the bus”, said one law enforcement user of Rekognition. Facial recognition technology is primarily used for post-crime investigations, not real-time monitoring, law enforcement agencies of the US have argued which reduces the risk of faulty recognition and arrests. 
“After over and over again saying that they stand by us and how we use the tech, they are making it seem like all of a sudden they don’t think we use it right,” a representative of a law enforcement agency was quoted in news reports as saying. 
Amazon said it would continue to permit the technology’s use by customers that help law enforcement find human trafficking victims.