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Amazon working on facial recognition regulation as groups write Congress to oppose bans



It makes a lot of sense to regulate biometric facial recognition technology, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who revealed to reporters at the launch of new Alexa devices that the company’s public policy team is working on its own proposals, Reuters reports.

“It’s a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, so you don’t want to put the brakes on it,” Bezos said. “At the same time, there’s lots of potential for abuses with that kind of technology, and so you do want regulations.”

Amazon has been criticized by the ACLU and others for selling its technology to law enforcement in the context of what critics see as inadequate regulatory controls or oversight.

A coalition of 39 groups including the International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) and non-profit public sector technology alliance IJIS Institute, meanwhile, has sent a letter to U.S. Congress arguing against bans on the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement agencies.

The letter is co-signed by many biometrics companies, including Aware, HID Global, NEC Corporation of America, and Vision-Box, as well as the Security Industry Association (SIA), and individuals from businesses, industry groups.

“Facial recognition technology significantly outperforms humans,“ said IBIA executive Director Tovah LaDier, and “does things unaided that humans cannot, including identifying exploited children in dark web pornography.

“Bans on facial recognition technology put improvements in community safety in a standstill, blocking advancements that would improve both public security and law enforcement oversight.”

A recent Pew Research survey that showed 56 percent of Americans trust law enforcement to use facial recognition is cited in the letter, and says that while oversight and accountability are important, alternatives to bans should be considered, such as expanded testing and performance standards, development of best practices and guidance for law enforcement, and additional training.

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