The debate around the excessive use of force by some US agencies continues to unfold. Amazon facial recognition, as announced by Big Tech now, will be restricted to the police for one year.

Meanwhile, his system, known as Rekognition, will be available for use by some of the civil organizations and non-governmental. Among the aforementioned entities, only uses that combat child trafficking and child abuse remain.

Amazon says they hope “this one-year moratorium can give Congress enough time to apply the proper rules.” They also point out that they are “ready to help” if required.

Non-existent regulation

Is about a much more timid reaction which the computing giant IBM had a few days ago. Unlike these, and although there is no specific reference in this regard, it is understood that the development of Amazon’s facial recognition systems will not suffer major setbacks.

Although there is no reference to the repression of the protests after the murder of George Floyd on May 25, Amazon does indicate in its brief statement that it is regular time using these systems:

“We have argued that governments must establish stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge.”

Speaking to CNBC economics, Jimmy Gomez, one of the representatives of the Democratic party in the US lower house, pointed in this direction. The politician says he expects Congress to approve a bill in this direction this year.

However, Gomez considers Amazon’s reaction “a good first step, but still not enough.” He also criticizes the giant’s stance, which despite showing public availability, “every time we tried to obtain more and more data they stopped,” he says. He adds that they have had to “organize hearings to keep moving the issue”.

Rekognition, Amazon’s facial recognition

As with many of these systems, the controversy surrounding their results is great. Not only because of the high rate of false positives it provides, but also because of the racial and gender bias around it. Both women and the black population are discriminated against, due to a much greater fallibility.

Several studies on Rekognition have pointed in various directions in this direction. In 2018, researchers verified how the facial recognition system linked up to 28 members of Congress with faces from a criminal database. Similarly and a year later, up to 27 professional athletes from the UK were targeted in the same vein. In both cases, the American Civil Liberties Union – ACLU, in English – found that black people were significantly more likely to error.

This has not been enough to stop Amazon’s efforts to try to serve these systems to multiple administrations. Washington County Police are listed on the page listing some of their clients, but they’re not the only ones. According to CNBC, this system was presented to the United States Immigration and Customs Service, although Amazon has not made public how many clients of this type use the system.

Western countries continue developing the regulatory framework around the potential harmful uses of these systems. They do, yes, at a much slower rate than they improve. Meanwhile, China is taking the lead, and its own government is using it for many seemingly good things. And others not so much, such as social control or racial repression against the Uygur ethnic minority.


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