Briefing

Amazon is trying to regulate itself over facial recognition software—before Congress does

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In a blog post Friday, Amazon outlined ethical principles around the use of facial-recognition tech and called for national regulation in the space. Among others, the tech giant recommended additional human review when the tech is used by law enforcement. (Vox, Amazon)

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Talking point: The note—written by Michael Punke, the company’s VP of global public policy—directly addresses the controversies around Amazon’s Rekognition technology, including reports of racial bias and misidentification. The company has also been criticized for pitching its software to law enforcement, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Critics say the proposals directly contradict Amazon’s past actions—for example, though it called for transparency when working with law enforcement, the company itself has been accused of withholding relevant information about its work with the police. Another Amazon product making controversy is the app Neighbors, a recent acquisition. A blend of social media and DIY crime reporting, it calls itself “the new neighbourhood watch”; Motherboard reports that people of colour are, once again, being disproportionately targeted.