Dems lash out at Amazon over facial recognition software misidentification

Dems lash out at Amazon over facial recognition software misidentification
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Democrats in Congress lashed out at Amazon Thursday following a report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that found the company’s facial recognition technology misidentified 28 members of Congress and was significantly less accurate when analyzing people of color.

“Law enforcement should not use this technology until the onerous civil rights and civil liberties issues are confronted and accuracy is guaranteed,” Rep. John LewisJohn LewisThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Bill Clinton jokes no one would skip Dingell's funeral: 'Only time' we could get the last word Biden eulogizes Dingell: 'Dignity was how John walked. Dignity was how John talked' MORE (D-Ga.) said in a statement. “If industry wants to engage in the public sphere, it needs to make the public good, not profit, a top priority.”

Lewis and Rep. Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezDem lawmakers call for FBI probe into Trump golf clubs' hiring of undocumented immigrants Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents Dem lawmaker to bring former Trump property undocumented worker to State of the Union MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Thursday requesting a meeting over the technology, expressing concern that the internet giant is providing it to law enforcement agencies.

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Another group of Democrats — Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats Green New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing We can have a Green New Deal, and air travel too MORE (Mass.), Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierWhy Women’s March co-founders were drawn to Farrakhan’s lies Zinke on California fires: 'This is not a debate about climate change' Zinke takes forestry fight to fire-ravaged California MORE (Calif.) — sent a letter to Bezos demanding answers about its “Rekognition” technology and sales to law enforcement.

“While facial recognition services might provide a valuable law enforcement tool, the efficacy and impact of the technology are not yet fully understood,” they wrote. “In particular, serious concerns have been raised about the dangers facial recognition can pose to privacy and civil rights, especially when it is used as a tool of government surveillance, as well as the accuracy of the technology and its disproportionate impact on communities of color.”

The software allows users to match faces from images or videos with those in a database. It’s been the subject of concern for Democratic lawmakers, particularly those in the Congressional Black Caucus, since it was revealed earlier this year that Amazon was providing the technology to police departments.

An Amazon spokesperson on Thursday pushed back on the ACLU’s testing methods and defended the technology.

“It is worth noting that in real-world scenarios, Amazon Rekognition is almost exclusively used to help narrow the field and allow humans to expeditiously review and consider options using their judgment (and not to make fully autonomous decisions), where it can help find lost children, restrict human trafficking, or prevent crimes,” an Amazon spokesperson said.