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Congress members demand answers from Amazon about facial recognition software


Once we referred to as the ACLU’s Amazon’s Rekognition press launch an “attention-grabbing stunt” after we wrote about it earlier at this time, nicely, contemplate that spotlight grabbed. A number of Democratic members of Congress have responded with a strongly worded letter to founder Jeff Bezos.

Reps. Jimmy Gomez and John Lewis issued a letter to Bezos, after the ACLU famous that the facial recognition software program falsely related 28 photos of Congress members with mugshots in a prison database. Lewis, a pivotal determine in America’s civil rights second, was amongst these falsely matched within the ACLU’s testing — significantly notable because the testing appeared to have a specific bias towards folks of colour.

“The outcomes of the ACLU’s take a look at of Amazon’s ‘Rekognition’ software program are deeply troubling,” Lewis wrote in a statement. “As a society, we want know-how to assist resolve human issues, to not add to the mountain of injustices presently going through folks of colour on this nation. Black and brown individuals are already unjustly focused via a discriminatory sentencing system that has led to mass incarceration and devastated tens of millions of households.”

A trio of Congress members (Sen. Ed Markey and Reps. Luis Gutiérrez and Mark DeSaulnier), in the meantime, wrote a letter addressed to Bezos with a collection of questions in regards to the know-how:

Whereas facial recognition providers may present a worthwhile regulation enforcement device, the efficacy and influence of the know-how should not but absolutely understood. Specifically, severe considerations have been raised in regards to the risks facial recognition can pose to privateness and civil rights, particularly when it’s used as a device of presidency surveillance, in addition to the accuracy of the know-how and its disproportionate influence on communities of colour.

Amazon for its half, each defended Rekognition and disputed the ACLU’s strategies. “We stay enthusiastic about how picture and video evaluation is usually a driver for good on this planet, together with within the public sector and regulation enforcement,” the corporate wrote in an announcement supplied to TechCrunch.

With regard to testing, it says:

[W]e assume that the outcomes may in all probability be improved by following finest practices round setting the arrogance thresholds (that is the proportion probability that Rekognition discovered a match) used within the take a look at. Whereas 80% confidence is a suitable threshold for images of sizzling canine, chairs, animals, or different social media use circumstances, it wouldn’t be acceptable for figuring out people with an inexpensive degree of certainty. When utilizing facial recognition for regulation enforcement actions, we information prospects to set a threshold of no less than 95% or larger.

The corporate additionally reiterated an earlier assertion that the outcomes are supposed for use to slender down outcomes, slightly than lead on to arrests.

Regardless, the ACLU’s stunt definitely bought the eye the group was looking for, each with regard to the aforementioned biases and broader safety implications of facial scanning for regulation enforcement.



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