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Congress wants answers from Amazon on facial-recognition technology

House Democrats are asking for details about law enforcement use.
Swapna Krishna, @skrishna
May 25, 2018
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Dan Thornberg / EyeEm via Getty Images

Amazon's controversial face-recognition technology is being tested and used by the Orlando police department, and apparently Congress isn't happy about that. Two members of the House of Representatives, Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), have sent Jeff Bezos a letter demanding he explain exactly how the tech, called Rekognition, is being used by law enforcement.

The Intercept was provided a copy of the letter before was publicly released. You can read it for yourself here. In it, they ask Bezos what law enforcement agencies are using the software, who Amazon has offered Rekognition to, information about error rates and bias and how Amazon is making sure its software isn't used to further systems that disproportionately impact protected groups. The letter requests answers by June 20th.

There's a lot of concern about the use of this kind of tech by law enforcement officers. Specifically, who and what governs how it is used? Could it be used to track people based on race, or to unlawfully follow immigrants? This is what privacy groups are concerned about, and likely why House Democrats are asking Bezos for answers.

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