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Amazon Pauses Facial Recognition Technology for Police Use

Amid concerns that artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition technology may lead to racial profiling,  Amazon will no longer make its Rekognition software available to police departments over the next year, the cloud services and ecommerce giant disclosed today.

The announcement comes only two days after IBM disclosed that it has abandoned its general purpose facial recognition and analysis software efforts. IBM CEO Arvind Krishna disclosed the decision in a letter to Congress about racial justice reform. Both IBM and Amazon are hoping Congress steps up to regulate the AI and facial recognition markets.

According to the Amazon statement:

“Amazon is putting a one-year moratorium on police use of the  facial recognition technology. We will continue to allow organizations like Thorn, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Marinus Analytics to use Amazon Rekognition to help rescue human trafficking victims and reunite missing children with their families.

We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge. We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”

Much of the technology industry has stepped up its fight against racism since a police offer was charged with murdering George Floyd. Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, was filmed holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, leading to Floyd’s death.

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