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Amazon facial recognition technology accelerates trafficking investigations


Child exploitation prevention organization Thorn has sped up its investigation time by 65 percent using Amazon’s Rekognition and other AWS tools, according to a blog post from the cloud services giant, demonstrating a major potential benefit of facial recognition technology.

“Amazon Rekognition has been an incredible partner to Thorn by helping us leverage their image and video analysis solutions in our mission to defend children from sexual abuse,” says Julie Cordua, CEO of Thorn. “Abusers have hijacked the most advanced technology to exploit children—selling children online for sex, circulating abuse images and videos, and engaging in live-streaming abuse. AWS has chosen to be a part of the solution—partnering to leverage their solutions to help find exploited children faster and stop abuse. Collaborating with leading technology companies like AWS is critical to building the tools we need to find these children faster, and end the spread of child sexual abuse material.”

Thorn is a non-profit organization that has helped identify 5,894 victims of child sex trafficking and rescue 103 children. It uses Rekognition as part of its Spotlight tool, which investigators use to quickly scan through thousands of domestic child sex trafficking ads.

“Spotlight, which relies on Amazon Rekognition for critical functions, is a crucial tool. It has enabled those dedicated to the fight against child trafficking to sift through massive amounts of child abuse and trafficking material,” says Cordua. “It puts the child first, and with a 65% reduction in investigation time, we are finding more victims faster.”

Amazon is engaged in a public relations battle over the use of Rekognition by police with ACLU and other advocacy groups.

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