Amazon is putting a one-year moratorium on police use of its artificial intelligence software Recognition between the backlashes it was facing to have ties with law enforcement and was hurting its share. Amazon recognition is a system to identify a person from an image or a video. It helps to make a highly accurate image and video analysis to various applications. Its capabilities include understanding where faces exist in an image or video as well as what attributes they have for example if the person has closed or open eyes, hair and eye color, mood as well as the visual geometry of the face which is the reason why it is more advanced than other facial recognition apps out there. This helps people to search through millions of photos or videos in just a second and also helps to identify people which is why it was a very important tool for law enforcement.
Amazon recently stated that it supports the black lives movement and asks for equal treatment and the end of police brutality in the united states. It is also putting a ‘black lives matter” banner on top of its home page to show support but people started calling amazon hypocritical because it sells its facial recognition software to police forces. Amazon also faced similar backlashes when it was first released because the software was considered to be unethical by human rights groups because it violated rights and targeted communities of color. Moreover, such software also incorrectly matches people which leads to chaos. Like in 2018 Recognition incorrectly matched 28 members of the congress to photos of people arrested for a crime. It specifically mismatched congress members who weren’t white and hence is said to be racially biased.
This is why Amazon decided to put a ban on its use until the police implement stringer regulations around it and also because of the recent statement by IBM to permanently end the development of facial recognition technology. This one-year time would also allow them to improve the technology and lobby the congressmen to make a friendly regulation so the technology can be implemented in the future. Amazon currently spends $16.8 million on lobbying. Though Amazon has not specifically stated it is working with law enforcement but its advertisement did show use by law enforcement.