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Amazon calls for federal regulation of facial recognition and national data protection law

Amazon calls for federal regulation of facial recognition and national data protection law

“Governments should work quickly to put in place a regulatory framework for facial recognition technology,” according to one of a set of positions on social issues published by Amazon. The 11 stances taken on the new “Our Positions” page of a company website tout Amazon’s record as an equal-pay employer and supporter of LGBTQ+ people’s rights, but also provide clarity on its views on laws and practices related to advanced technology and personal data.

The position on regulating biometric facial recognition comes immediately after one stating that all levels of government should be given “access to the best technology,” including machine learning tools. Only the U.S. government is explicitly referred to, but Amazon makes clear that it intends to sell law enforcement any tools they see fit. The power of Amazon Rekognition for good is shown with the examples of more than 100 missing children located and more than 5,000 child sex trafficking victims identified, but the company also acknowledges that any technology can be misused. Amazon says it provides guidance to law enforcement customers, and an Acceptable Use Policy.

These measures are unlikely to satisfy critics, who will point out that one of the few U.S. police forces known to use Rekognition has admitted it does not follow Amazon’s guidance.

Amazon refers to the guidelines it proposed for responsible use of facial recognition and new legislation early in 2019, and says national legislation is needed “that protects individual civil rights and ensures that governments are transparent in their application of the technology.”

The company also calls for a federal law to protect consumer data privacy, saying it “support(s) U.S. federal privacy legislation that requires transparency, access to personal information, ability to delete personal information, and that prohibits the sale of personal data without consent,” and calls for stiffer federal penalties for counterfeiting.

Other positions include the need for the corporate tax code to incentivize investment and job creation, support for immigration reform, a recognition that serious action from across public and private sectors is necessary to fight human-induced climate change, and support for a higher federal minimum wage in the U.S.

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