Amazon's controversial facial 'Rekognition' tech gets dropped by Orlando Police

Rekognition may have been booted out of Orlando, but the program could restart in future.

Amazon’s facial recognition software, Amazon Rekognition, has been widely criticized and with that its testing has finally come to a halt in Orlando by the city's police department.

Amazon's Rekognition software works by comparing images provided by the customer to a database of images the customer has also provided. It searches for a match using the computing power of Amazon's cloud computing network AWS.

According to a Gizmodo report, the Orlando Police Department said on 25 June that it has dropped the Rekognition program with Amazon, but the program could restart in future.

Representational Image

Representational Image

“The City of Orlando is always looking for new solutions to further our ability to keep our residents and visitors safe. Partnering with innovative companies to test new technology - while also ensuring we uphold privacy laws and in no way violate the rights of others – is critical to us as we work to further keep our community safe” said the police department.

The American Civil Liberties Union had revealed last month that Amazon had been selling Rekognition to law enforcement agencies.

The ACLU on 22 June signed an open letter and launched a petition to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to "end its practice of selling its dragnet surveillance system to local enforcement," according to the emails released by the organization.

More than 100 Amazon employees, including senior software engineers, signed a letter asking Jeff Bezos to stop selling facial recognition software to police. The Hill first reported about the existence of the letter. They also urged Bezos to stop providing services to companies who work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The letter read that, "Our company should not be in the surveillance business; we should not be in the policing business; we should not be in the business of supporting those who monitor and oppress marginalized populations."

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