In February of previous year, before the publicity wave, Mr. Adzima told an Amazon representative in an email that the county's lawyer was anxious the public might believe "that we are constantly checking faces from everything, kind of a Big Brother vibe".
"Rekognition marketing materials read like a user manual for authoritarian surveillance", Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director for the ACLU of California, said in a press release. As NPR reported two weeks ago, American police have generally held off, but there's new evidence that one police department - Orlando, Fla. - has made a decision to try it out. To date, facial recognition software has managed to generate high numbers of false positives, while only producing a handful of valid arrests. "By automating mass surveillance, this freedom is threatened".
It seems China isn't the only country using facial recognition technologies to track down criminal suspects.
"[The] City of Orlando is a launch partner of ours", said Amazon's Ranju Das at a developer conference held in Seoul, South Korea. Interested federal, state and local agencies could still implement a form of AWS Rekognition on their own. There are other known clients outside of law enforcement as well, as facial recognition technology has a wide range of possible uses.
The program, called Rekognition, is sold though the online giant's Amazon Web Services division, and is now being used by police in Orlando, Florida and the sheriff's office in Washington County, Oregon. "At this time in the pilot, as it is still very early on in this process, we have no data that supports or does not support that the Rekognition technology works".
He could not say how many crimes the program had helped solve and added that the software wasn't always accurate. NPR tried to follow up, but OPD said it wasn't doing interviews on the topic.
The Post is also owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. In a statement Amazon retorted: "Our quality of life would be much worse today if we outlawed new technology because some people could choose to abuse the technology", Amazon said in a statement.
In a response to the New York Times, a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services said the technology is not specifically meant for law enforcement, and that, as with all of the company's services, A.W.S. required customers to comply with the law and to be responsible when using it.
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Still, it was unclear how much further officials would be willing to go if the president remained unhappy. Neither will any Democrats, meaning the information will likely become instantly politicized.
Law enforcement agencies in Florida and OR are using the service for surveillance, according to the ACLU. "Amazon should not be in the business of providing surveillance systems like Rekognition to the government". "And that's why we're blowing the whistle right now".
Oregon's Washington County sheriff's office wants to use the system to scan some 300,000 booking photos from its jail that it has compiled since 2001, according to records obtained by the ACLU.
This is typical of companies that sell facial recognition. Will the technology do more harm than good? "Seconds saved in the field can make the difference in saving a life". An invoice included among the documents shows that the e-commerce giant was charging the Washington County Sheriff's Office in OR just $343.95.
Microsoft and Google have similar facial-recognition technology. Powered by artificial intelligence, Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image.
Cagle says that could easily change.
In emails between Amazon and Washington County employees, the company offers the expertise of the Rekognition product team, troubleshoots problems encountered by the county, and provides "best practices" advice on how to deploy the service.
Harp contends the technology doesn't discriminate based on the color of a person's skin.