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06/11/2020

Amazon temporarily restricts facial recognition tech from police

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon is implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of its Rekognition facial recognition technology. 

In a short post on its corporate blog, the e-tail giant said it will continue to allow organizations like Thorn, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Marinus Analytics to use the Amazon Rekognition facial recognition solution to help rescue human trafficking victims and find missing children.

“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,” Amazon said in the blog post. “We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”

IBM recently announced it will no longer develop or research facial recognition technology, and will also no longer offer the technology to law enforcement agencies. The enterprise technology firm cited potential concerns over racial bias and civil rights violations occurring as a result of facial recognition being used for law enforcement or security purposes.

Amazon’s response to ongoing protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and other civil rights issues also includes a recent $10 million donation to 11 organizations the company says are “working to bring about social justice and improve the lives of Black and African Americans.”