Amazon Shareholders Can't Stop Rekognition
There were two Amazon shareholder proposals that aimed at curbing the sale of their facial recognition software, Rekognition, due to privacy concerns and both failed. “One proposal would have banned Amazon from selling its Rekognition technology to government agencies unless it first determines the software doesn't infringe on civil liberties. The other proposal called for an independent study of the potential privacy and human rights violations caused by Rekognition.”
The fact that these proposals were presented shows the mistrust the average person has for big tech getting into the biometric recognition business. As I have discussed in previous blogs, the foundational algorithms used to power this technology can have built in societal biases and we have to be very careful before utilizing biometric technology to “police”. We must make certain that use of any biometric identifying technology does not infringe on the individual right to privacy that we all have.
Of course, Amazon would say that their technology “has proven its value in improving public safe [and there] are material benefits to both society and organizations". However, it is irresponsible, in the race for profits and to sell to governmental agencies, that privacy concerns have not been fully addressed. It is curious that both Google and Microsoft have stated publicly that they will not sell their facial recognition software to law enforcement, but Amazon has pushed forward. Google and Microsoft want laws enacted that will help guide the use of biometric technology.
In law school we were taught that the right to privacy is the right to be left alone, not only in our own homes but in places where an individual would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. We are vastly approaching a place where the only place we can say we have a right to privacy is in our own home….. oh wait….. Amazon Alexa is there too!