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Amazon sales of facial recognition software to police on pause indefinitely


Cities have banned facial recognition in police departments, but US lawmakers haven’t yet passed regulations for its use by law enforcement.


James Martin/CNET

Amazon isn’t ready to begin sales of its facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies when a year-long moratorium expires in June. The company didn’t announce a new deadline, and the suspension of sales of the Rekognition software will stay in place until further notice, as reported earlier by Reuters.

The ban came after a long period of outcry against the use of facial recognition software in law enforcement. Reports emerged that facial recognition programs disproportionately misidentified women and people with dark skin tones, incorrectly flagging them as matches to photographs. The ACLU ran US lawmakers’ faces through the software and found several lawmakers falsely identified as criminals.

States and localities considered bans on police using the technology, with prohibitions passing in cities in California and Massachusetts. Jackson, Mississippi also passed a ban in August 2020. 

After the murder of George Floyd by law enforcement in May 2020, Amazon announced it would hold off on sales of the technology to police to give US lawmakers time to consider regulations for the ethical use of facial recognition. While lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation on the matter last year, no new laws have been enacted.



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