Amazon is under mounting pressure from civil rights groups to stop sale of facial recognition technology to government as US rights advocacy leader the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Monday urged Amazon investors to vote against it.
In the case of facial recognition, dozens of activist organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that implicit bias in the algorithms that power the tool can lead to rights violations and targeting of communities of color.
Even if looking past the ethical considerations, there is also a business case for addressing the concerns around Amazon Rekognition, and the impact they could have on the trillion-dollar-company's brand.
That the vote took place at all is more than a symbolic victory, too, as Amazon did not sit back idly while groups like the ACLU, Open MIC, and worker unions like the UFCW agitated in favour of these agenda items. Amazon's board of directors recommended rejecting the proposed ban on sales of the technology, as well as a secondary measure that calls for the company to issue a report on the risks of governments using the technology.
It has become such a hot issue that companies like Microsoft and Google are rejecting requests for the technologies to be used by some agencies.
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Emily Cunningham, center, who works as a user experience designer at Amazon.com, speaks during a news conference following Amazon's annual shareholders meeting, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Seattle held by the group "Amazon Employees for Climate Justice".
Yet the Amazon measures represented a growing backlash against facial-recognition software, which is increasingly used everywhere from police departments to rock concerts to homes, stores and schools.
Committee members from both sides of the political aisle also aired their own concerns about the technology, expressing hope for bipartisan legislation to regulate police face recognition. The response to facial recognition Ahead of Amazon's shareholders meeting, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to ban the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement groups, while MA now has a bill seeking to put a moratorium on the tech in committee.
Law enforcement in OR and Florida have used Amazon's face and image ID service, known as Rekognition. In an open letter, the ACLU said lawmakers are "hearing the alarm bells" about what the group called "perhaps the most risky surveillance technology ever developed".