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ACLU tells Amazon to stop selling facial recognition tech to police

ACLU tells Amazon to stop selling facial recognition tech to police

The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy activists are urging Amazon.com Inc to stop selling its facial recognition software to police departments.

The Orlando Police Department said in an email to the AP that the department "is not using the technology in an investigative capacity or in any public spaces at this time". Its impressive Rekognition technology is the flawless tool for government entities wishing to obliterate the idea of personal privacy.

In a video posted to YouTube by Amazon Web Services Korea, Amazon's Ranju Das called Orlando a "launch partner", demonstrating how the system works using what he described as an Orlando traffic camera.

The police department in Orlando, Florida, is also trying out Rekognition to track people in real time, identifying them as they walk down the street, the ACLU said. "In over-policed communities of color, it could effectively eliminate it", the group wrote in the letter. In an interview with StateScoop then, Chris Adzima, a sheriff's office analyst, cited an instance of the software identifying a man who attempted to steal thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise from a local hardware store, only to be caught after footage from the store's surveillance camera matched a Facebook photo.

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".

That could have potentially dire consequences for minorities who are already arrested at disproportionate rates, immigrants who may be in the country illegally or political protesters, they said.

Moreover Amazon sees that the main market for the "Rekognition" will be the governmental agencies use.

Law enforcement agencies are using Rekognition, Amazon's facial recognition system, to identify people and track them in real time.

"We require our customers to comply with the law and be responsible when using Amazon Rekognition".

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Mary McWilliams of San Clemente tells the Orange County Register that she saw two women with burns stagger out of the building. Dave Sawyer told reporters on Tuesday that investigators "don't know if it was an intentional detonation of a device".

"Once a unsafe surveillance system like this is turned against the public, the harm can't be undone".

"If police are looking for an African-American suspect, they may miss even if that person is in their database - it may not find that person", she said.

The city says the cameras Amazon has access to are "extremely restricted and limited to only eight city-owned cameras".

Using Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests, ACLU investigators obtained communications between the two law enforcement agencies and Amazon.

According to The Washington Post, whose owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns Amazon, the Washington County Sheriff's Office in OR pays Amazon an amount between $6 and 12 every month to access the technology.

"It makes them more efficient and better at fighting crime", Deputy Jeff Talbot of the Washington County Sheriff's Office in OR said.

Amazon's facial recognition technology, Rekognition, is raising concern among privacy advocates. It shows video from a traffic cam that he said was provided by the city of Orlando, where police have been trying the technology out. Additionally, the letter highlights a lack of oversight of how technology like this is being used. In fact, Washington County began using Rekognition technology "even as employees raised questions internally".

What we learned from the records: for far less than the monthly cost of Amazon Prime, a law enforcement agency can build a face surveillance system.