AWS Offers Support Facial Recognition Legislation

Galtero Lara
Febrero 10, 2019

"We support the calls for an appropriate national legislative framework that protects individual civil rights and ensures that governments are transparent in their use of facial recognition technology".

Why it matters: With Amazon's facial recognition software seemingly under constant fire, Amazon Web Services Vice President Michael Punke took to the internet to outline his thoughts on guidelines legislators should consider when dealing with such systems.

Where the law stands: There are no federal laws specifically governing facial recognition but some states do have laws against using technology to identify people without consent.

Microsoft is one of several companies playing a leading role in developing facial recognition technology. Then in December, Google said it was holding off on selling a general-purpose facial-recognition system until "important technology and policy questions" had been addressed.

The company produced a five-point plan to responsibly regulate the technology when it comes to law enforcement.

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While Amazon's intention of trying to keep things fair across its site must be lauded, the site owners will have to address issues related to civil liberties before they can put this technology to use. The company has faced a constant barrage of criticism for the technology, with civil rights groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union raising concerns about the potential for misuse of Rekognition, excessive surveillance and bias against certain races or groups.

Experts are also pointing out that by collecting such videos, the online retailing giant's might be planning to use Rekognition, its facial recognition programme, to identify users. "We encourage policymakers to consider these guidelines as potential legislation and rules are considered in the USA and other countries".

"AWS also supports the creation of a national legislative framework covering facial recognition through video and photographic monitoring on public or commercial premises, and we encourage deeper public discussion and debate about whether the existing video surveillance laws should be reviewed and updated", Punke writes. He maintains that Amazon's company's own product is highly accurate. "In each case, we've demonstrated that the service was not used properly", he argued.

"New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse". "Instead, there should be open, honest and earnest dialogue among all parties involved to ensure that the technology is applied appropriately and is continuously enhanced".

Amazon said it's joining a push for legislation on facial recognition technology. From the ACLU condemning it for misidentifying members of Congress as criminals to its own employees penning a letter to company heads demanding they stop selling it to law enforcement, the facial recognition system has been controversial almost from its inception.

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