Matt Cagle and Nicole A. Ozer of the ACLU:
Marketing materials and documents obtained by ACLU affiliates in three states reveal a product that can be readily used to violate civil liberties and civil rights. Powered by artificial intelligence, Rekognition 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, according to Amazon.
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. Amazon says Rekognition can be used to identify “people of interest” raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments — such as undocumented immigrants or Black activists — will be seen as fair game for Rekognition surveillance. It also says Rekognition can monitor “all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports” — at a time when Americans are joining public protests at unprecedented levels.
This is very cool coming from a company that sells cameras that sit on your nightstand and recording devices for your kids’ rooms and not at all troubling in any way.
For what it’s worth, Amazon previously did not respond to questions about whether they would help build a “Muslim registry”.
I get that the business argument exists, and that employees need an income. But that doesn’t absolve the shocking lack of conscience demonstrated here by Amazon.