The (nasty) shock of Rekognition

Anyone who does business with any reasonably large online entity has probably had an inbox-ful of notices about updates to Privacy Policies. 

Here’s why:

But their storage (or not) of your information is only a (shrinking) part of the story. I’m sure George Orwell’s ghost smiled [probably not—MCM] in recognition when it came face to face with Rekognition, Amazon’s gift 34 years later to the Total Information Awareness state. Here’s an introduction to Rekognition from the ACLU. (Caveat: James Corbett would caution that the claims of such intrusive technology should always be taken with a grain of salt, that sometimes they don’t work but the whole point is to have you think they work. Dunno in this case…)

——– Forwarded Message ——–

Imagine attending a protest, and the police automatically identify and label you as suspicious from a photo of the crowd. Or you start a new life in this country, and ICE watches you in real time. You may not be suspected of criminal activity, but the government tracks your whereabouts – and the whereabouts of anyone they want.

This disturbing surveillance state is exactly what Amazon is powering with its facial recognition technology, Rekognition.

Amazon’s own marketing materials tout Rekognition’s alarming tracking capabilities, and documents that the ACLU recently obtained demonstrate just how eager Amazon is to hand this product over to the government. Amazon isn’t just actively selling to law enforcement, it’s partnering with them to ensure that authorities can fully utilize Rekognition’s capabilities.

Add your name now to demand that Amazon stop making a business out of government surveillance – and selling out our privacy. Providing Rekognition to the government marks a dangerous step toward widespread, automated public surveillance.

Rekognition is powered for real-time surveillance. It can recognize you in photos of large groups of people, and in crowded events or public places – at a time when we’re joining public protests at unprecedented levels. Amazon even touts that Rekognition can be used to identify “people of interest,” raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments – such as undocumented immigrants or Black Lives Matter activists – will be seen as fair game for Rekognition surveillance.

Facial recognition technology isn’t neutral. The government’s use of Rekognition will automate mass surveillance, threaten people’s freedom to live their lives safely and privately, and is primed to amplify bias and inequality in the criminal justice system – all to serve Amazon’s bottom line.

Amazon is already laying the foundation for a surveillance state in Orlando, Florida, and Washington County, Oregon. And other governments are interested, too – California, Arizona, and Oregon have already contacted Washington County asking about Rekognition.

We can’t allow Amazon to pad its bottom line by selling out our right to live our lives safely and privately outside of the government’s gaze.

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