Amazon testing facial recognition tools for online sellers: report

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Amazon may be using facial recognition software to verify the identity of online sellers, BuzzFeed News reported Wednesday.

The news outlet reported that an individual based in Vietnam who sells goods through the retail giant was prompted to record a five-second video of his face in order to sign up for a seller profile.

Consultants told BuzzFeed that the process may reflect a push for Amazon to use facial recognition software to prevent the creation of duplicate seller profiles, which would cut down on fake accounts.

{mosads}”We always experiment with new ways to verify the information sellers provide us in order to protect our store from bad actors,” Amazon said in a statement to The Hill. “Seller identification information is securely stored and used only for identify verification.”

The unidentified seller, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from Amazon, told the outlet that he was not presented with an option to decline submitting a video of his face in signing up for a profile.

The company did not respond to questions from BuzzFeed about the recording of sellers’ faces.

Facial recognition technology has drawn scrutiny for its reported use at Amazon and other tech companies. 

A group of Amazon shareholders filed a resolution last month to block the company from selling its facial recognition software, known as Rekognition, to government entities until the company’s board looks into its potential uses and confirms it would not violate civil or privacy rights.

Civil rights groups and privacy activists have criticized Amazon’s contracts with law enforcement agencies for Rekognition out of concern for the technology’s accuracy and how it could be abused by police.

Updated at 11:26 a.m.

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