Amazon has banned the police from using its facial recognition software for a year after civil rights defenders raised some concerns regarding potential racial bias in surveillance technology – bbc reports.
This week IBM also stated it would not offer its facial recognition software for “mass surveillance or racial profiling”.
According to Amazon such suspension of software use should provide US lawmakers the opportunity to enact legislation to regulate the way the technology is employed.
In its statement Amazon said: “We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge”.
“We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”
However, the company will provide a possibility to use such technology by organisations dealing with human trafficking.
Like other facial recognition products, Amazon’s Rekognition can use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to very quickly compare a picture from an officer’s phone camera and try to match it with mugshots from police databases.
Facial recognition technology has been criticised for some time over potential bias, taking in account results of studies showing that most algorithms are more likely to wrongly identify the faces of black people and other minorities than those of white people.
The death of George Floyd has raised concerns regarding police tactics and the use of technology.
Earlier IBM has already stated it would no longer offer its facial recognition technology. The main reason AI systems used in law enforcement need to pass tests “for bias”. In a letter to Congress, IBM chief executive Arvind Krishna specified that that fight against racism is as urgent as ever, and outlined areas where the company wanted to work with Congress: police reform, responsible use of technology, and broadening skills and educational opportunities.