Reportedly, Amazon employees from cloud-computing department met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, back in June. The meeting motive was to pitch the company’s facial recognition technology, according to the e-mails obtained by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight.
As Bloomberg writes, Amazon presented many tools on general machine learning capabilities within Amazon Web Services. However, the main AI tool showcased was Rekognition: a facial recognition tool developed by Amazon to quickly identify people in photos and videos.
“We participated with a number of other technology companies in technology ‘boot camps’ sponsored by McKinsey Company, where a number of technologies were discussed, including Rekognition,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
As of now, ICE has no on-going contract with Amazon. Matthew Bourke, the ICE spokesman, said to that the agency regularly meets new vendors to learn about the tools that they have developed.
A report from the ACLU of Northern California, back in May, suggested that many small law enforcement agencies were using Rekognition at a subscription costing between $6 and $12 per month. Interestingly, Amazon has still not submitted its algorithm to National Institute of Standards to test its authenticity and racial bias of the tool.
The people have long criticized facial recognition to be used by regulatory bodies. Not only because it threatens the fundamental civil rights of the citizen, but also many AI tools launched by different companies have shown a tendency to be racially biased.