Skip to main content

Amazon's creating a facial recognition system the government can use

Amazon Logo on Google Pixel 2
Amazon Logo on Google Pixel 2 (Image credit: Android Central)

Privacy is a luxury that seems to be slipping away from our world with every day that passes, and Amazon's currently working on a system to ensure it disappears ASAP.

According to marketing materials that the ACLU obtained, Amazon's building a new technology called "Rekognition" that's designed for facial tracking. Per the ACLU

Powered by artificial intelligence, Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces, according to Amazon.

The most common use for Rekognition seems to be targeted at law enforcement. Rekognition will be able to ID "people of interest" and is described by Amazon as a "person tracking" technology. Furthermore, as the ACLU notes —

Amazon not only markets Rekognition as a law enforcement service, it is helping governments deploy it. Amazon lists the city of Orlando, Florida, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon among its customers.

Of those mentioned above, the Washington County Sherrif Department became a Rekognition customer back in 2017. Since then, the department has created a database of faces using around 300,00 mugshots and even made a mobile app that deputies on the force can use to cross-match people with the information they already have.

As the ACLU continues —

With this technology, police would be able to determine who attends protests. ICE could seek to continuously monitor immigrants as they embark on new lives. Cities might routinely track their own residents, whether they have reason to suspect criminal activity or not. As with other surveillance technologies, these systems are certain to be disproportionately aimed at minority communities.

What are your thoughts on Amazon creating a technology like Rekognition and allowing governments to use it? Is this a good thing that'll help to keep everyone more secure, or is it a violation of privacy that'll likely be abused by those that have access to it? Sound off in the comments below.

Amazon might sell an Alexa robot in 2019

Have you listened to this week's Android Central Podcast?

Android Central

Every week, the Android Central Podcast brings you the latest tech news, analysis and hot takes, with familiar co-hosts and special guests.

  • Subscribe in Pocket Casts: Audio
  • Subscribe in Spotify: Audio
  • Subscribe in iTunes: Audio

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • Now this is what Trump should be getting angry about.
  • Another example of Amazon acting as a evil empire. And another reason for me to avoid doing any business with them.
  • Yep...we live in a dystopian future. This is another clear violation of the 4th amendment but the constitution doesn't seems to mean **** anymore.
  • I'm good with it. Anything that supports identifying threats, terrorists, bombers etc. I am all in...
  • Yeah, I'm sure that's all the government agencies will use it for.
  • "Customers at this protest also bought: chisel tip markers, white poster boards, Catcher in the Rye..."
  • Lol, good one...
  • I avoid using Amazon as much as I can. Everyone talks about how Wally World treats its employees. Amazon is just as bad. Employees living in tents next to where they work because their not paid enough to afford housing. Now this. Just more reason to let my Prime sub expire.