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article imageOrlando begins testing Amazon's facial recognition in public

By Tim Sandle     May 27, 2018 in Technology
Orlando - Orlando's police have started using Amazon's controversial Rekognition facial detection system. Initially the police service said the trial was confined to its headquarters; it's not admitted the technology is in use on the streets.
The news that the facial recognition technology was active on the streets was not voluntarily shared by the police department. The fact was exposed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The civil liberties organization has focused its campaign against the technology directly on Amazon rather than at government agencies. The ACLU is seeking to shame Amazon into halting its sales of facial recognition technology.
The primary concern many people have about facial recognition is about privacy, and with how information is stored, captured and used. For many civil liberties groups there are specific concerns about the right to protest freely and peacefully, without the images of those protesting being captured and the individuals being identified by law enforcement agencies.
Amazon Rekognition
Amazon Rekognition is based on highly scalable, deep learning technology, as developed by Amazon’s computer vision scientists. The system is used to analyze billions of images and videos daily. According to the ACLU:
Amazon Rekognition can identify people in real-time by instantaneously searching databases containing tens of millions of faces. The system offers a “person tracking” feature that it says “makes investigation and monitoring of individuals easy and accurate” for “surveillance applications.”
Amazon states that Rekognition can be used to identify “all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports".
With Orlando, police chief John Mina was forced, by the ACLU expose, to issue a statement about the wider use of facial recognition technology. Quoted by Engadget he said that the use of facial recognition technology in public areas was still at the trial stage: "We test new equipment all the time. We test new guns, new vests, new shields, new things for police cars all the time. That doesn't mean that we're going to go with that particular product. We just want to see if it works."
Amazon have supplied a statement to Fortune about the use of the technology. Here Amazon said that it “requires that customers comply with the law and be responsible when they use [Amazon Web Services].” Furthermore, Amazon said that: “Our quality of life would be much worse today if we outlawed new technology because some people could choose to abuse the technology."
The Orlando police have declined requests to state where the cameras are, citing security concerns. This is likely to lead to a legal challenge from the ACLU.
More about Facial recognition, Amazon's facial recognition, Police, Detection, Rekognition
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