On May 10, 40 advocacy groups sent an open letter Calls for a permanent ban The use of Amazon’s facial recognition software, Rekognition, by the US police. The letter was addressed to Jeff Bezos and Andy Gacy, current and incoming chief executives of the company, and it came only weeks ago. Amazon hiatus for a year On sales to law enforcement to expire.
The letter compared Bezos and Gacy’s outspoken support for Black Lives Matter campaign activists during last summer’s racial justice protests after the murder of George Floyd with reporting it. Other Amazon products were used by law enforcement to identify protesters.
May 17, amazon Advertise It will extend its suspension indefinitely, joining competitors IBM and Microsoft in a self-regulating disinfectant process. The move is an indication of the political power of the groups fighting to limit technology – and an acknowledgment that a new legislative battlefield is emerging. Many believe that substantial federal legislation will likely be passed soon.
‘People are tired’
It was last year Pivot for face recognition, Including disclosure of the technology leading to False arrests, And the ban imposed on it Almost twenty cities and seven states Across the United States. But the momentum around face recognition has changed for some time.
In 2018, AI researchers published a study An accuracy comparison of commercial facial recognition software from IBM, Microsoft, and Face ++. Their work found large nuance gaps between how technology defines light-skinned men versus dark-skinned women. IBM’s system scored the worst error rate of 34.4% between the two groups.
Also in 2018, The American Civil Liberties Union tested Rekognition from Amazon And it found that she misidentified 28 members of Congress as criminals – focusing disproportionately on people of color. the organization She wrote her own open letter to AmazonAsking the company to ban government use of technology, As did the black bloc in CongressAmazon did not make any changes.
During the racial justice movements against police brutality last summer, Amazon surprised many by announcing that it had stopped police use of Rekognition, despite exceptions to federal law enforcement officers such as ICE. The company said it hoped Congress would “give Congress ample time to lay down the appropriate rules.”
Evan Greer is the director at Fight for the Future, a tech advocacy group that believes in eliminating face recognition technology and says there is growing public support for its regulation. She says the extension of the moratorium this week shows that “Amazon is responding to this tremendous pressure that they’re receiving, and not just about facial recognition. I really give great credit to the nationwide uprisings for racial justice that have occurred over the past year and a half.”
Although there is increasing pressure on the major technology providers, the truth is that most law enforcement and government users do not purchase facial recognition software from companies like Amazon. Therefore, although bans and bans are welcome by advocacy groups, they do not necessarily prevent the use of technologies. Meanwhile, Congress has yet to pass any federal legislation to limit the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement, government, or commercial entities that regulate smaller service providers.
Some hope that federal legislation will come soon, either through direct Congressional action on face recognition, a Presidential Executive Order, or gradually through upcoming bills of appropriation and police reform.
“I think the best-case scenario is that Congress passes a ban on its use,” says Kate Rowan, senior legislative advisor at the American Civil Liberties Union, and that new uses will only be allowed after more legislative work.
Several federal bills have already been proposed that would govern access to facial recognition.
- The Facial recognition and the law prohibiting the use of biotechnology Calls for the program to be banned by any federal entities, as well as withholding of federal grant funds for any state and local authorities that also do not enact a suspension of their own. It was proposed by four Democratic members of Congress and brought to the Senate last year.
- The George Floyd Justice in Police Law That would prevent facial recognition from being used on body cameras. The bill has already been approved in the House of Representatives and is expected to reach the Senate next week. President Biden requested that the bill be passed before the death anniversary of George Floyd on May 25.
- The The fourth amendment is not for sale It is a two-party bill introduced by 18 senators that restricts the government from working with technology providers who violate their terms of service. In practice, this would greatly prevent government access to the systems that are involved in scraping the web, Like Clearview AI.
Mutale Nkonde, the founding CEO of AI for the People, a nonprofit that advocates for racial justice in technology, thinks we’ll likely see additional federal legislation by next year’s midterm elections.
“I think federal legislation will be introduced that will govern all systems of algorithms, including facial recognition,” Nkundi says. “I think this is a political reality.”
Nkundi says the concept of impact assessments that base technological systems on civil rights is gaining traction in policy circles, on both sides of the corridor.