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Anonymous Amazon employee condemns company's facial recognition software

By Cal Jeffrey · 11 replies
Oct 19, 2018
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  1. An anonymous Amazon employee is speaking out about the company’s decision to sell its “Rekognition” software to police departments. According to an op-ed the employee wrote for Medium, over 450 employees signed a letter to Jeff Bezos and other execs that demands the company stop providing this tool to law enforcement.

    Rekognition is facial recognition software designed for use by law enforcement. We reported how back in July the ACLU tested the tool and found that it falsely identified 28 US lawmakers as criminals. Jokes about dirty politicians aside, Amazon claims the system it 80-percent accurate.

    However, the employee goes on to explain that it is not about accuracy, but rather about enabling the government with tools of mass surveillance.

    “Amazon is designing, marketing, and selling a system for dangerous mass surveillance right now,” the author wrote. “Law enforcement has already started using facial recognition with virtually no public oversight or debate or restrictions on use from Amazon.”

    The employee cites Orlando, Florida and at least one county sheriff department in Oregon as already having and testing the facial recognition system. He (or she) calls Amazon’s actions “dangerous and irresponsible.”

    Amazon has not yet responded to the letter.

    “So far it’s been radio silence,” he told Medium in an interview. “There’s been no official response to the letter and certainly no apparent change in how they market Rekognition.”

    The author, who was not afraid of revealing his biases behind the mask of anonymity, fears that the “authoritarian” Trump administration will use the technology to deport otherwise honest immigrants. Law enforcement body cams, which were intended to ensure “police accountability,” can now be used as weapons aimed at the public resulting in “outsized impacts and over-policing of communities of color, immigrants, and people exercising their First Amendment rights.”

    What do you think? Should Amazon be supplying LEO with its Rekognition system, or is this the slippery slope the employee believes it to be?

    Permalink to story.

  2. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 674   +485

    Sounds like terrible software anyways...
  3. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,456   +1,032

    Ha! Sounds more like a member of ANTIFA who doesn't want to be found out during riots :laughing:
    Eldritch, Hexic, kombu and 1 other person like this.
  4. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,706   +2,500

    LOL!!! If Hillary or Bernie were in office they would be jumping for joy at the feds having the ability to track enemies of the Party (I.e. anyone who's not a leftist). Where's their outrage over Alexa listening in on literally EVERY WHISPER? Where is their outrage over the continuing illegal wiretapping of every phone call which Obama signed off on? Liberals are hilarious.
    Eldritch, kombu and JaredTheDragon like this.
  5. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,706   +2,500

    Irony is when someone who is more intolerant than a raving KKK member refers to themselves as a "progressive". That handle of yours only shows that you value common sense. While I loathe the idea of mass surveillance its criminals and terrorists who will have the most to fear as long as you don't have Marxists or National Socialists running the show. The minute that happens, however...well, history is quite clear about how that always turns out.

    I love this part in particular:

    The author, who was not afraid of revealing his biases behind the mask of anonymity, fears that the “authoritarian” Trump administration will use the technology to deport otherwise honest immigrants.

    Yeah, "immigrants" living here illegally and paying no taxes while receiving public services AND a paycheck...but "otherwise honest". Just like most "progressives" who've never contributed anything to society except hate, intolerance and a drain on public resources. I know the Alinsky-ites look forward to the day the whole system collapses under the strain of the human dead weight but I don't think their going to like what comes afterwards. It ain't gonna be rainbow-festooned, poly-sexual communes, I can tell you that.
    Eldritch, Reehahs, senketsu and 3 others like this.
  6. Hakerx1

    Hakerx1 TS Rookie

    You are being watched.
  7. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,374   +3,770

    Considering the implications for those falsely accused there must be equal or greater consequences on those people/agencies that make the error. Just misjudgements can cost a person their career, security clearances, ability to make a living and their own peace of mind which seriously affects their "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness". Allowing a free pass because "its the government and where here to protect you" simply isn't enough. The interruption of people's lives for a mistake that should never be allowed to happen, in this country, is not only avoidable, it is unconscionable. Let it happen, once, just once, to a member of the Trump family and lets see the impact!
    mbrowne5061 and wiyosaya like this.
  8. Abraka

    Abraka TS Addict Posts: 176   +54

    Probably because those common criminals that are often protected by the Liberal Party will now be caught on camera and immediately recognized. And it may happen that cold cruel statistics shows that certain people do more crime than others. And that we're not all equal. Some do a lot more crime and then when they are caught pretend they were victims of society.
  9. Eldritch

    Eldritch TS Addict Posts: 128   +125

    I don't really get the concerns of the Anonymous employee :

    1. If one was inclined to profile then they don't need a software to tell them someone is an immigrant. Police can always stop them and ask for ID. This system reduce unnecessary interactions for legal immigrants.

    2. The crimes that this tech will help stop, solve and criminals that will be apprehended will be great for society as a whole. This feels like a much higher priority than deportation of illegals. We can not ignore that benefits outweigh the cost by a huge margin here.

    3. The alarmist tone is amusing. If DNA testing was invented now the people will be revolting that 'Police will take our DNA and racially profile us!' but the truth is it has helped solve numerous crimes and even exenorate innocents people of color and ethnic backgrounds.
  10. Eldritch

    Eldritch TS Addict Posts: 128   +125

    I get the mass surveillance point and that they will be able to track my outdoor movements. But aren't you going a bit overboard by comparing it with living in a bunker? This tech is not nearly as invasive as the already common mobile phone which has all my messages, to do lists, location as well as location history, thoughts & notes, contacts, social media, logins, photos of me and my friends, family and associates and more. I would prefer to fight for data privacy of my mobile phone and browsing but it keeps getting worse without any tangible benefit eg net neutrality revocation.

    On the other hand, considering this techs benefits I would say the tradeoff is well worth it.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  11. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,949   +2,266

    That was an example of working across the aisle with those that refuse to work with you. I, for one, was not at all happy about that particular example of working across the aisle.
  12. Cubi Dorf

    Cubi Dorf TS Booster Posts: 144   +51

    It only true 80% of times. Innocent people are going to get shot by police because bad data.

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