Several law enforcement agencies are using Amazon’s facial recognition technology called Rekognition, which the company says can “detect, analyze, and index up to 100 faces” in a single image, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU obtained documents in three states where the technology is being used and where Amazon has offered product support and free consulting services to government customers.
Amazon pitches the product as one that makes it easier to catch criminal suspects. Nearly three dozen civil rights groups joined the ACLU in signing a letter to Jeff Bezos asking to “stop powering a government surveillance infrastructure that poses a grave threat to customers and communities across the country.”
A spokeswoman for Amazon Web Services told the New York Times that customers must obey the law, and that amusement parks have also used the technology to find lost kids.
The revelations put a spotlight on Amazon at a time when other tech giants like Facebook are facing questions about privacy and the role they play in society. It isn’t the first to question Amazon as to how its technology affects privacy. The letter from advocates comes after lawmakers sent Mr. Bezos a dozen questions about how the Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition handles children’s data. Whether and how the company responds to the advocates’ letter is worth watching.