Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology May Just Be Your Worst Nightmare
Black Mirror episode spin-offs where the government can track you simply by your facial features using a stray traffic camera may not be just fiction too far away in the future.
Amazon has a product called Amazon Rekognition and it is your worst nightmare come to life.
The product can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces.
Amazon is marketing Rekognition for government surveillance – according to its marketing materials, it views deployment by law enforcement agencies as a “common use case” for this technology. Among other features, the company’s materials describe “person tracking” as an “easy and accurate” way to investigate and monitor people.
This would imply that Rekognition would be built into police body-cams to track ‘people of interest.’
Rekognition can also monitor “all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports,”
according to Amazon’s marketing material.
This is bad news. At a time when racial profiling and wrongful imprisonment of undocumented immigrants is at all time high, the question arises : Is this really the time to get this technology?
But more specifically, Is this technology really necessary?
A series of protests have been started against this technology directly opposing not only the surveillance part of it but the fact that Amazon has marketed this to law enforcement and the government, even when they were urged to not sell it.
The city of Orlando has gone as far as dropping its pilot program use of Rekognition. Brian Brakeen, CEO of the facial recognition company Kairos, took a stand and said his company wouldn’t sell the technology to the government. “In the hands of government surveillance programs and law enforcement agencies,” Brakeen writes, “there’s simply no way that face recognition software will be not used to harm citizens.”
And this stands true – in this day and age where every move you make can be documented – is this really the technology we need, ever?