Jeff Bezos Wants to Help Write Federal Facial-Recognition Tech Laws

Amazon, the company so omnipresent you probably have a tab of its online store open right now, has a market capitalization of 860 billion dollars as of this writing. So when the behemoth tech company’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, says he wants Amazon to help craft federal laws pertaining to the use of facial recognition software—the same facial recognition software that Amazon is deeply invested in—something tells us legislators are going to listen.

In a recent Recode article, which comes via Futurism, Bezos, who was responding to a reporter after this year’s annual Alexa hardware event, is quoted as saying that “[Amazon’s] public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations…” and that because of how powerful it is, it makes a lot of sense for the government to put limitations on it.

A video from the Bezos-owned Washington Post discussing the use of Rekognition. 

Bezos went on to say that facial recognition software is “a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, ” and that “you don’t want to put the brakes on it.” He added that “at the same time, there’s also potential for abuses of that kind of technology, so you do want regulations.” He called the facial recognition technology “a classic dual-use kind of technology.”

But Amazon proposing federal legislation for regulating the use of facial recognition technology seems inherently problematic because of how the company wants to deploy it for its own financial gain. In fact, Amazon employees went on strike last year because Amazon Web Services (AWS) was marketing the technology to various government agencies, including ICE. According to Wikipedia, the technology has already been sold and used by a number of U.S. government agencies, as well as “private entities.”

An explainer video for how facial recognition technology works. 

The facial recognition technology Amazon is marketing has been dubbed “Rekognition,” and is already exceptionally good at identifying all types of objects, people (including gender and age), faces, and emotions. Yes, that means Rekognition knows when you’re afraid.

What do you think about Amazon helping the federal government craft facial-recognition technology laws? Fully identify your thoughts in the comments!

Feature image: Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

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