Facial Recognition: Privacy and Civil Liberties

Facial Recognition is an increasingly prevalent technology, with many uses. Governments are beginning to employ facial recognition technologies within criminal justice systems, companies are trying out facial recognition to track customers, and app developers are integrating this technology into core experiences. New phones and laptops will recognize your face to log in. 

Amazon has the responsibility to ensure that its facial recognition API service, Rekognition, is used responsibly. The misuse of Amazon's services carries very real regulatory and reputational risks. Reuters reports that:

"Civil liberties groups have raised concerns including findings by researchers that Amazon’s technology struggles more than some peers’ to identify the gender of individuals with darker skin, prompting fears of unjust arrests."[0]

Facial recognition is marketed as a technology to increase the accuracy of identification, but irresponsible use by governments actually increases the likelihood of mistaken identities. 

The Electronic Frontier Foundation publishes a issue-topic overview to Facial Recognition covering the core technology and the legal implications.[1] In fact, many governments such as the State of Illinois have begun to regulate certain implementations of facial recognition. 

Amazon risks creating backlash against facial recognition and other AI technologies if its services attract negative attention for human rights abuses. Amazon's best interest is to proactively monitor and audit its own services. Saying that Amazon 'follows the law' is necessary but not sufficient, as few laws have yet been written to regulate these activities. 

 

 

 

 

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[0] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-facial-recognition/u-s-blocks-amazon-efforts-to-stop-shareholder-votes-on-facial-recognition-idUSKCN1RG32N

[1] https://www.eff.org/pages/face-recognition