Taking on facial recognition

Taking on facial recognition

Rekognition amazon.png

An Amazon shareholder group is looking to keep the online giant from marketing its Rekognition facial recognition technology to law enforcement.

Open MIC, a US non-profit that looks to promote shareholder engagement at major tech companies, has filed a resolution asking Amazon to prohibit sales of Rekognition unless the firm it can be sure that it will not pose civil and human rights risk.

Joined by co-filers, the group of shareholders introducing the proposal represent a total of $1.32bn in assets under management.

“Tests of the technology have raised concerns that it is biased, inaccurate and dangerous,” says Open MIC. “In one test, Rekognition technology disproportionally misidentified African-American and Latino members of the US Congress as people in criminal mug shots.”

“It’s a familiar pattern – a leading tech company marketing what is hailed as breakthrough technology without understanding or assessing the many real and potential harms of that product,” says Michael Connor, executive director of Open MIC.

At the tailend of last year, London’s Metropolitan Police deployed live facial recognition technology to cover Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. The force has made six deployments since 2016 with use of the technology resulting in only two people being stopped.

Activist group Big Brother Watch argues that monitoring innocent people in public is a breach of fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of speech and assembly.

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