Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Amazon proposes regulatory guidelines for facial recognition

Amazon proposes regulatory guidelines for facial recognition

While defending its own facial recognition technology Rekognition, saying there has been not a single report of misuse of the technology by law enforcement, Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Friday said it also supports the creation of a legislative framework covering facial recognition through video and photographic monitoring on public or commercial premises.

"The use of facial recognition technology must comply with all laws, including laws that protect civil rights", Punke wrote.

"We understand why people want there to be oversight and guidelines put in place to make sure facial recognition technology can not be used to discriminate", he wrote.

Amazon has engaged with various stakeholders over the past several months, according to Punke, to develop its proposed guidelines, which the company hopes policymakers consider as they evaluate their options for legislation. 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.

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.

‪The groups cited use of Rekognition by law enforcement in OR and Florida and warned that the tool could be used to target immigrants and people of color unfairly.

The post also makes five specific points about how the biometric technology can be used in a way that reassures civil liberties advocates and other critics. Punke writes that facial recognition matches should not be the sole determinant for making arrests or identifying persons of interest in a criminal investigation.


"Amazon should make it crystal clear they are not exploiting this sensitive face data to, for example, enrich the face surveillance product that a coalition of 90 groups just demanded the company stop providing to governments".

"You may have read about some of the tests of Amazon Rekognition by outside groups attempting to show how the service could be used to discriminate".

In India, Duggal said, anybody can misuse this technology without fears of facing any adverse legal consequences. "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".

However, not everyone believes Amazon is acting in good faith.

"Amazon's framework rings woefully hollow, underscores the company's refusal to properly address the dangers of its technology in government hands, and reinforces the urgent need for Amazon to get out of the surveillance business altogether", said ACLU senior legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani in an email.

Legislators in the state of Washington (Amazon's home state) are considering a bill of their own, as they wait for federal rules.

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