Amazon is selling its facial recognition technology called Rekognition to the American law enforcement agencies — this news has been making rounds in the digital media circuits for quite some time now. In response to this deal and ignorance of privacy risks, different civil liberties and human rights organizations have also voiced their opinions.
Back in May, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a heap of public records that provided further insights into Amazon’s tactics. The company, which calls itself “Earth’s most customer-centric company,” has been marketing the face tracking software coupled with the police body cameras to grab the data.
With Rekognition, the police can identify, track, and analyze 100 people in a single image, in real time. It can then match the collected information against the database containing millions of faces.
While the technology might seem innocuous to some, it could be used to track undocumented immigrants or black activists. Even the workers at Amazon have written a letter to the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos and asked him to curb this project as there’s no need to wait and see if the agencies end up misusing the technology.
In the past, Mr. Bezos has himself criticised Trump and its banning of Muslims. However, the recent developments seem to paint a picture where business interests seem to overpower the ethics.
What makes this issue more pressing is the amount of data and control Amazon has over an average citizen. It continuously keeps tracking you via its e-commerce platform, home devices, automation systems, and more. The company also has a thriving cloud business and powerful servers which can process the collected data at a fast pace and become an accessory in a dystopian tracking mechanism. It might seem far-fetched, but it also reminds me of China’s recently implemented Black Mirror-like social credit system.