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 LewisCongress losing faith in Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi Obama to urge rejection of 'authoritarian politics and policies' in speech Florida's Darren Soto fends off Dem challenge from Alan Grayson 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 GomezHillicon Valley: Facebook stock plummets in biggest one-day drop | Trump threatens to investigate Twitter | GOP lawmaker backs off impeaching Rosenstein | Dems demand Trump officials testify on election security Dems lash out at Amazon over facial recognition software misidentification Hispanic Dems press Nielsen on family separations 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 MarkeySome employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Overnight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site ICE: No immigration enforcement in areas of hurricane shelters or evacuations MORE (Mass.), Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierZinke on California fires: 'This is not a debate about climate change' Zinke takes forestry fight to fire-ravaged California Trump tweets on wildfires show ignorance on climate, California and politics 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.