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Orlando police to continue Amazon facial recognition pilot



The Orlando Police Department has informed the city’s mayor and council in a memo that it will continue to test Amazon’s facial recognition software in order to make a “thoughtful, precise, and comprehensive recommendation” on whether it should follow through by purchasing it, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The proof of concept phase of the pilot to apply Rekognition to five cameras in police headquarters and three more in Orlando’s downtown expired last month, and the city will meet with Amazon to discuss the details of the next phase, including its length. Seven volunteers from the police department made up the database, which will not be expanded for the next phase.

“When we were approached we saw the value in how we can use it to get some really violent criminals off the street,” said OPD Deputy Chief Mark Canty.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer recently expressed support for the project.

“Facial recognition is already being used everywhere. I see people open their iPhones with it. When I come back in the country they do facial recognition for my Customs and Border Patrol entry,” Dyer said, according to the Sentinel. “This is just using it in a little bit broader sense for crime prevention or crime apprehension. I think we’ll be able to balance that need. It’s not something where we’re going big brother and following everybody.”

Orlando’s use of Rekognition was recently highlighted by the ACLU as it joined other privacy groups in calling on Amazon to stop marketing its facial recognition technology to police.

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