Why Amazon (after IBM) suspends Rekognition

Why Amazon (after IBM) suspends Rekognition

Jeff Bezos' Amazon prohibits police officers from using their facial recognition technology, Amazon Rekognition, for one year

The banning of facial recognition technology by the US big tech continues. Yesterday, Amazon announced that it will ban the use of its facial recognition technology , Rekognition, by the police for a year.

Amazon's one-year moratorium comes after IBM released the facial recognition business on Monday .

The stances come when technology companies face more control over their contracts with the police. In the background, law enforcement repressions of the protests of the Black Lives Matter movements that are shaking the United States.

In recent weeks, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has spoken out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement but the company has not provided a concrete reason for this decision other than requiring federal regulation of facial recognition technology.

THE REKOGNITION SOFTWARE

Rekognition is part of Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing division of the Seattle tech giant.

AWS launched Rekognition in 2016, describing it in a short blog post as "a service that simplifies adding image analysis to applications" and "detects objects, scenes and faces in images".

The software uses machine learning to quickly compare an image captured from a person's social media account to search for a match from a database of hundreds of thousands of mug shots.

SUSPENSION OF ONE YEAR

Amazon has therefore decided to temporarily ban the police from using its facial recognition technology. The moratorium will last for one year.

THE REASONS FOR THE BEZOS COMPANY

The company did not provide a concrete explanation of its choice, merely citing the need for federal regulation: “We are pushing for stricter government regulations on the ethical use of facial recognition technologies and Congress seems ready to take up the challenge. We hope that this one-year moratorium will give Congress enough time to implement the appropriate rules and we are ready to provide help if requested. "

But Amazon's decision is the result of fear, denounced by activists and civil rights groups, that law enforcement agencies may use technology to identify the people who participate in demonstrations against the agents' violence, which broke out after George's death Floyd.

THE DECISION AFTER THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF IBM

The announcement follows a similar two-day announcement by IBM, which spoke of the risk of violations of human rights and privacy and cited research indicating that facial recognition technology is being distorted based on age, race and ethnicity.

In a letter to Congress, CEO Arvind Krishna condemned the software used "for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms".

DISPUTES BEFORE YET OF CURRENT PROTESTS

Face recognition was a controversial topic for Amazon even before the latest wave of protests nationwide against police violence. Over the past two years, a dozen civil rights organizations led by the American Civil Liberties Union (Aclu) have protested against Rekognition, due to the potential violation of human rights and evidence that technology is less accurate in identifying the people of color.

NOT SO ACCURATE

A 2019 study by Joy Buolamwini , a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, showed that while men with lighter skin were correctly identified, up to 35% of women with darker skin were incorrectly identified.

AMAZON SHAREHOLDERS ALSO AGAINST REKOGNITION

These studies have also alarmed Amazon shareholders. So much so that last year 2.4% of shareholders voted in favor of the ban on selling software to government agencies.

THE FORCES OF THE ORDER THAT RELY ON REKOGNITION

The Sheriff's Office in Washington County, Oregon is currently the only police department that Aws accredits as a Rekognition customer on the site. Amazon declined to comment on the total number of police departments using its software.

USE PERMITTED

However, Amazon has made it known that it will allow Rekognition to be used to monitor work for victims of human trafficking and to find missing children.

BUT AMAZON RING?

If Rekognition is put on standby, for at least a year, another controversial Amazon technology remains operational. As Cnbc reports, more than 1,000 police departments in the United States have collaborations with Ring , Amazon's smart bell security company. These partnerships allow the police to request footage from Ring security cameras, raising privacy concerns.

There appear to be few limits to the police's ability to apply Amazon Rekognition software to video footage obtained by Ring. Last year Ring responded to CNN that its policies do not regulate the way police departments handle or archive video evidence.

THE PARADOXES

For these reasons, critics remain skeptical of Amazon's move: how can society support social justice on the one hand and continue to allow law enforcement agencies to use technology that is largely unregulated on the other?

THE SMALL ON MICROSOFT

Returning to facial recognition, after IBM and Amazon, Microsoft remains operational. Aclu and other opponents of the technology are now asking Microsoft to abandon its facial recognition services provided through the Azure cloud service.

"Microsoft also has to take a stand," said Mit Joy Buolamwini researcher.


This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/innovazione/perche-amazon-dopo-ibm-sospende-rekognition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=perche-amazon-dopo-ibm-sospende-rekognition on Thu, 11 Jun 2020 13:46:53 +0000.