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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 LewisNY Times slammed for glowing Farrakhan op-ed: 'You would think he was a gentleman' Washington flooded with Women's March protesters ahead of Barrett confirmation vote HBCU in Alabama renames hall named after KKK leader 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 GomezDemocrats call for IRS to review tax-exempt status of NRA Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants 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 MarkeySenate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing Time to honor the 'ghosts' of WWII OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Federal officials press concerns about proposed mine near Georgia swamp, documents show | Trump falsely claims Green New Deal calls for 'tiny little windows' | Interior appeals migratory bird ruling MORE (Mass.), Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierDozens of Democrats plan to vote remotely in a first for the House Rep. DeSaulnier leaves ICU after 3 weeks to continue treatment for pneumonia Rep. DeSaulnier in critical condition due to pneumonia 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.