Amazon’s facial recognition tool mismatched 28 members of Congress to mug shots: ACLU

Vastavam web: A facial recognition tool that Amazon.com Inc sells to web developers wrongly identified 28 members of the U.S. Congress as police suspects, in a test conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the organization said on Thursday. Amazon, in a response, said it took issue with the settings of its face ID tool during the test. The findings nonetheless highlight the risks that individuals could face if police use the technology in certain ways to catch criminals.

The groups cited use of Rekognition by law enforcement in Oregon and Florida and warned that the tool could be used to target immigrants and people of color unfairly. On Thursday, three Democrats who were identified in the ACLU test – Senator Edward Markey, Representative Luis Gutiérrez and Representative Mark DeSaulnier – sent a letter to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, expressing concern and inquiring about the tool’s accuracy and use by law enforcement.

Facial recognition is already widely used in China for police purposes, and a number of start-up companies there – some valued at billions of dollars – are aggressively pursuing the technology. “We remain excited about how image and video analysis can be a driver for good in the world,” a spokeswoman for Amazon Web Services said in a statement, citing its help finding lost children and preventing crimes. She said Rekognition was normally used to narrow the field for human review, not to make final decisions.

The ACLU said it paid just $12.33 to have Amazon Rekognition compare official photos of every member of the U.S. House and Senate against a database of 25,000 public arrest photos. These matches were disproportionately people of color, according to the ACLU. Some 39 percent were African-American and Latino lawmakers, versus 20 percent who identify as a person of color in Congress, the ACLU said. It added that Recognition could exacerbate harm because people of color are already targeted at an above-average rate by the police.