Amazon Inc has announced plan to implement a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial recognition software.
According to Amazon, the move is a reversal of its longtime defence of law enforcement’s use of the technology.
The tech giant is the latest to step back from law-enforcement use of systems that have faced criticism for incorrectly identifying people with darker skin. The Seattle-based company did not say why it took action now.
The announcement, which was made on Wednesday June 10, 2020, came as activists have been voicing concern that facial recognition could lead to unjust arrests during demonstrations against police brutality, racial injustice and the death of George Floyd.
Critics have questioned the accuracy of the technology, pointing to Amazon’s “Rekognition” service that had struggled to identify the gender of individuals with darker skin in a past study.
The company, which sells cloud computing technology via its Amazon Web Services division, said in a statement that it had pushed for regulations to ensure the technology was used ethically.
“We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested,” Amazon said.