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Artificial intelligence

Even Amazon says it wants face recognition to be regulated

February 7, 2019

Amazon, a leading purveyor of face recognition software, has backed calls for technology to be regulated.

Face palm: Amazon has come in for criticism for supplying the technology to police. Last year the American Civil Liberties Union also published a study suggesting that the company’s cloud software, called Rekognition, is racially biased. In the ACLU’s test, the tech falsely matched members of Congress with a database of criminal mug shots, with a disporoportionate number of the mismatches being people of color.

Government oversight: In a blog post today, Michael Punke, Amazon’s vice president of global policy, defended the reliability of the company’s technology, but he also said: “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.”

Law and order: Punke said Amazon is in favor of requiring law enforcement to be transparent about use of the technology; mandating disclosure when it’s used in public places; and including human oversight when the technology is used in law enforcement. Amazon would also like to see standardized testing of the technology and recommended that it be used only if it is 99% accurate, he said.

Growing concerns: Amazon joins a chorus of voices warning that face recognition threatens to undermine personal privacy. Google has also said it won’t offer face recognition services until it can figure out an appropriate approach.

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