Bezos slammed for his plans for regulating face recognition

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 27, 2019 13:30 hrs
Amazon

Seattle: Civil rights groups have criticised Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for a statement that his company is working on its own regulation framework for the controversial facial recognition technology.

Appearing before the media at his company's annual product event where it launched a slew of new smart home devices, Bezos said: "Our public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations; it makes a lot of sense to regulate that.

"It's a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, so you don't want to put the brakes on it," added Bezos, according to Recode.

"But, at the same time, there's also potential for abuses of that kind of technology, so you do want regulations. It's a classic dual-use kind of technology," he told the reporters.

The announcement to write own regulations for the face recognition technology which been in the controversy for long did not go well with the activist groups.

"Amazon wants to write the laws governing facial recognition to make sure they're friendly to their surveillance-driven business model," Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, was quoted as saying in a Fox News report.

"This type of technology is uniquely dangerous. It poses a profound threat to the future of human liberty that can't be mitigated by industry-friendly regulations," he added.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the tech giant needs to do more than propose a legislation.

"If Amazon is really interested in preventing these dangers, the first thing it should do is stop pushing surveillance tools into our communities without regard for the impact," the ACLU's senior legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani said in a statement.

Amazon isn't the only tech company calling for regulating the facial recognition technology.

Microsoft and its President Brad Smith are also urging governments to enact legislation regarding the technology.

The tech industry needs to step up and do more to address challenges related to regulation, said Smith in his new book titled "Tools and Weapons".

Given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology in 2019, Smith said last year.

"Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues," warned Smith in a blog post.

"The use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms," he said in December last year.

Amazon has also defended the face recognition.

New technology should not be banned or condemned because of its potential misuse. Instead, there should be open, honest, and earnest dialogue among all parties involved to ensure that the technology is applied appropriately and is continuously enhanced," the company said in a February blog post.

Amazon offers "Rekognition" -- a facial recognition tool that has been used to spot criminals.

In August, the ACLU found that "Rekognition" tool wrongly flagged more than two dozen California lawmakers as criminal. In another test last year, it marked 28 members of Congress as criminals.