George Floyd: Amazon bans police use of facial recognition technology

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Franklin Izuchukwu

Amazon said Wednesday that it would be banning the use of its facial recognition software by police for a year – a response to ongoing protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd.

CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos.

The news comes two days after IBM said it was set to its plans to stop working on facial recognition products, and its company CEO called for reforms to advance racial justice and combat systemic racism.

Amazon said in a statement: "We've advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge.

Then announcement comes in response to the protests over the killing of George Floyd.

"We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested."

Following the killing of Floyd on May 25, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos spoke out about his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Bezos also shared an email where a customer questioned the company's support of the Black Lives Matter movement, stating, "You're the kind of customer I'm happy to lose."

The company's facial recognition tool, Rekognition, has been available since 2016.

The company's facial recognition tool, Rekognition, has been criticized in the past for identifying African-Americans and other people of colour.

According to reports, the technology was pitched to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the United States.

Last year, the company stated Rekognition, which was launched in 2016 by Amazon Web Services, was capable of detecting fear – a reference to its ability to detect people's facial expressions.

Past research has shown that such software could hold both racial and gender bias.

On its website, the Washington County Sheriff Office is the only police department AWS lists as a Rekognition customer.

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