Amazon Pauses Police Use Of Facial Recognition…. Why This Is Meaningless

Amazon has announced that they are going to be pausing police use of facial recognition by police forces. Here’s why via a blog post put out by Amazon:

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.

We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and 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.

This is a first step, but it’s really not one that goes far enough. IBM who quit the facial recognition business earlier this week took a very definitive stand on this. This move by Amazon isn’t even close to that. It seems to me that Amazon wants to say that it is doing something to address the issues that have come out of the George Floyd protests, but at the same time still make money from this tech at a later date. Thus it seems to me that this is more of a PR stunt than anything else, and as a result is meaningless. If Amazon really wants to show some leadership on this issue, then they would do something that is closer to the IBM end of the spectrum. But I suspect they won’t and thus you should not take them seriously on this issue.

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