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Amazon executive defends facial recognition and says company advising government on regulations


Amazon is educating government officials about its Rekognition facial biometric service, and how the technology should be regulated, Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andy Jassy told reporters at the company’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, Bloomberg reports.

“Even though we haven’t had a reported abuse case, we’re very aware people will be able to do things with these services that could do harm,” Jassy says, addressing criticism of the technology being marketed to law enforcement.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has repeatedly criticized Amazon over discrepancies in the accuracy of its technology when applied to different populations, and the appropriateness of its use by police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Recently the ACLU demanded that the Department of Homeland Security disclose its use of or plans for facial recognition. Documents recently discovered through a Freedom of Information request suggest that the training and communication efforts involved in a trial of Rekognition by the Orlando Police Department were inadequate.

Jassy said that for law enforcement applications, confidence levels should be set at higher levels than for applications like identifying celebrities in video footage. He also said that even at higher confidence levels, it should be used as a tool in decision making, rather than the sole factor.

Rekognition has also recently been integrated into a platform to help investigators find missing children.

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