Amazon is selling its very own customized facial recognition technology, Rekognition to law enforcement officials. Amazon released this technology in late 2016 along with providing consulting services. One of its first official customers was the sheriff office at Washington County. In 2017, deputies were using it almost 20 times per day for burglary and abduction cases.
What does Rekognition actually do?
The team at Amazon behind Rekognition boasts that it can identify up to 100 people in a photo. It includes object, text, scene detection and facial analysis and recognition. This helps law enforcement officials and businesses track persons of interest in real time. A database containing millions of faces were used by police officers of Washington to cross-check photos of unidentified suspects. All the officials did was place mug shots to the software for identification. Such services from AWS cost officials around $400 to upload 300,000 photos into the system according to ACLU reports. This makes the technology reliable, cheap and swift for cases that require effective results.
The collaboration of tech companies with law enforcement often raises concerns about privacy and software flaws. With Amazon being connected to homes with services such as cloud and Alexa, many advocates think it is very risky. For instance, facial recognition technology used by UK’s Metropolitan Police had incorrect matches in 98% of cases. Amazon thinks otherwise and clarifies that the facial recognition program matches photos and videos uploaded by the customer and not by anyone else.