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Amazon moratorium on facial recognition software

Amazon not allowing police to use its facial recognition software

AI-based software for facial recognition is controversial because of its intrusive character and because tests have shown it is often incorrect. Amazon has now announced it is extending a moratorium on police use of the company’s facial recognition software.

The extended moratorium is until further notice. In June last year, the company halted police use of the software for one year.

Critics of AI-based facial recognition have stressed that inaccurate face matches by law enforcement could lead to unjust arrests and that it is also intrusive breaking reasonable privacy rules.


The moratorium is for police use and on its website, Amazon promotes its service called Rekognition saying:

“Amazon Rekognition makes it easy to add image and video analysis to your applications using proven, highly scalable, deep learning technology that requires no machine learning expertise to use. With Amazon Rekognition, you can identify objects, people, text, scenes, and activities in images and videos, as well as detect any inappropriate content. Amazon Rekognition also provides highly accurate facial analysis and facial search capabilities that you can use to detect, analyze, and compare faces for a wide variety of user verification, people counting, and public safety use cases.”


The European Commission recently proposed rules for responsible use of artificial intelligence that includes rules for facial recognition saying:

“In particular, all remote biometric identification systems are considered high risk and subject to strict requirements. Their live use in publicly accessible spaces for law enforcement purposes is prohibited in principle. Narrow exceptions are strictly defined and regulated (such as where strictly necessary to search for a missing child, to prevent a specific and imminent terrorist threat or to detect, locate, identify or prosecute a perpetrator or suspect of a serious criminal offence). Such use is subject to authorisation by a judicial or other independent body and to appropriate limits in time, geographic reach and the data bases searched.”

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