Originally posted on Wired by Louise Matsakis

Amazon Won’t Let Police Use Its Facial-Recognition Tech for One Year

Amazon announced on Wednesday it was implementing a “one-year moratorium” on police use of Rekognition, its facial-recognition technology. Lawmakers and civil liberties groups have expressed growing alarm over the tool’s potential for misuse by law enforcement for years, particularly against communities of color. Now, weeks into worldwide protests against police brutality and racism sparked by the killing of George Floyd, Amazon appears to have acknowledged these concerns.

In a short blog post about the decision, the tech giant said it hopes the pause “might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules” for the use of facial-recognition technology, which is largely unregulated in the US. Critics have said that the tech could easily be abused by the government, and they cite studies showing tools like Rekognition misidentify people of color at higher rates than white people. Last year, Axon, the maker of Tasers and police body cams, said it wouldn’t deploy facial-recognition systems in its products after a company ethics board recommended against it.

Many of those arguments received renewed attention in recent weeks, amid scrutiny of police tactics against black Americans as well as concerns over government surveillance of peaceful protestors. On Monday, IBM announced it was exiting the facial-recognition business altogether, citing the potential for human rights abuses. After Amazon released a statement “in solidarity with the black community” late last month, many people called out the message as hollow…

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