Amazon implementing 1-year moratorium on police use of Rekognition facial recognition technology

Amazon is implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of Rekognition, its facial recognition technology, the company announced in a June 10 blog post.

The announcement comes after massive nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for an extended period of time. Floyd’s death has sparked new discussions on racism and police conduct regarding black individuals and other minorities.

“We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge,” Amazon said in its blog post. “We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”

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The company said that it will allow organizations such as the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children to keep using the technology to “rescue human trafficking victims and reunite missing children with their families.”

Amazon’s announcement of the moratorium came shortly after IBM announced that it was getting out of the facial recognition area.

First launched in 2016, Rekognition enables users to identify a variety of people and objects in images and videos, while also providing “highly accurate facial analysis and facial search capabilities,” according to Amazon’s website. The technology enables users to analyze and compare faces for a “wide variety of user verification, people counting, and public safety use cases.”