From the start, there have been concerns about how facial recognition technology can be made easily available to “the right people” with the privacy guarantees that law often provides. Recent events in the United States appear to have been the brazen awakening companies and legislators needed to face the challenge of regulating the use of this potentially invasive technology. However, since it will take some time, technology companies like IBM and now Amazon have paused these technologies at least by providing these tools to law enforcement officers.
Artificial intelligence and facial recognition are among the impressive tools that few people probably would have imagined just a few years ago. It can make life more comfortable, given the right app, and safer, but just like any other tool, it can also be used to cause irreparable damage sometimes. This is why people have been calling for laws that limit or criminalize at least the misuse of these technologies.
Unfortunately, protests across the country will be necessary to finally get this ball, but while the US Congress is still trying to figure out how to move forward
Technology companies are taking care of themselves. IBM has announced that it will stop developing general-purpose AI products, and Amazon is following its example slightly.
What the e-commerce giant has announced is simply to stop the police from using Rekognition, its cloud-based platform as a service (SaaS) used to identify faces.
Although the announcement does not mention this, it is a temporary measure to prevent the use of technology to identify protesters or implement racial profiling.
However, Amazon does not completely withdraw from this market. He says he will continue to provide face-to-face technology to organizations that fight human trafficking and bring missing persons together with their families. And the moratorium is not indefinitely, because it hopes that one year will be sufficient for Congress to act jointly.
Technology giant Amazon has prevented the police from using the controversial facial recognition software for a year.
This comes after civil rights advocates raised concerns about a possible racial bias in surveillance technology.
This week, IBM also said it would stop offering its face recognition software for “group observation or racial profiling”.
The decisions come in the wake of increasing pressure on companies to respond to the death of George Floyd in police custody.
Amazon said the suspension of law enforcement use of the Rekognition program was to give US lawmakers an opportunity to pass laws to regulate how technology is used.
“We have urged governments to put in place stricter regulations to regulate the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress seems ready to meet this challenge,” Amazon said in a statement.
“We hope this one-year moratorium will give Congress enough time to implement the appropriate rules, and we are ready to help if requested.”
However, the company said it would still allow human trafficking organizations to use the technology.