The on-going protests following George Floyd's death have focused the world’s attention on racial injustice in America and how police use facial recognition technology to track people. In a bid support #BlackLivesMatter protests and in a wake of the outrage over George Floyd's murder, Amazon Inc. has reportedly announced a one-year ban on the use of its facial recognition technology by the police.
The decision concludes a two year-battle between the e-commerce giant and civil liberties activists, who have voiced concerns that inaccurate matches may lead to biased arrests. The death of George Floyd has accelerated worries that facial recognition technology would be used unfairly against protesters.
As per the statement, Amazon Inc. is taking proactive steps to ensure the ethical use of the software. The company said in the statement that the one year ban on facial recognition technology may give Congress sufficient time to implement proper rules, and the company is ready to help if requested.
Commenting on the facial recognition technology, Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said that facial recognition technology gives government authorities the extraordinary power to spy on people. He also requested Microsoft and other companies to walk on a similar path like Amazon, Google, and IBM. Spokespeople from Microsoft have not yet commented on the matter.
As Amazon has been facing the brunt of criticism due to its prominence and defense of facial recognition technology, this announcement marked a major significance in the industry. However, companies like NEC Corp and Idemia have more facial recognition in government business.
Meanwhile, Amazon said in the statement that the firm would continue to permit the technology’s use by customers to help the legal department to find human trafficking victims.