Amazon bans use of its facial recognition technology by police for one year

Businesses are being called out. Campaigners and protestors are naming and shaming firms supporting the black lives matter movement without making real change to their policies, and the tech industry has been no exception.

With mass protests across the United States against racial discrimination and police brutality, civil rights advocates have renewed their warning over potential racial bias and surveillance technology, forcing Amazon to put a temporary one-year ban on US police from using its controversial facial recognition software called, Rekognition.

In a statement, Amazon says its decision might give Congress enough time to put in place appropriate rules for ethical regulation.

The decision is a U-turn for Amazon. Last year it defended its products against allegations that its algorithm was inaccurate with high error rates of facial identification for darker-skinned and female faces.

Like other facial recognition products, Amazon’s technology can use artificial intelligence to quickly match a picture from an officer’s phone camera with the police databases.

Artificial intelligence researchers from tech giants and a number of top universities had written an open letter saying Amazon’s software had the potential of racial discrimination, mistaken identity, and intrusive surveillance of marginalized groups.

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