Amazon suspends Rekognition use by police for 1 year

Amazon suspends Rekognition use by police for 1 year

Amazon announced that they are ending use of their Rekognition facial recognition technology for one year, effective immediately. Amazon says that they will still allow use of the system by “organizations like Thorn, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Marinus Analytics.”

Rekognition allows users to upload a series of photos of known people and match other pictures to people in those photos. The ACLU found that in the default settings, Rekognition had serious accuracy issues, particularly with Black faces.

It’s unclear from the statement whether this also applies to the FBI, which in 2018 began testing the Rekognition system.

This is a clear response to the anger and outrage at the policing system after the brutal murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd and so many others. While companies from Apple to Netflix have put out statements condemning the killing of George Floyd and feigning support for Black people in the United States, it’s hard not to be cynical about this move by Amazon. The company still partners with ICE and the US intelligence services. Its warehouse workers are routinely mistreated, forced to urinate in bottles because they can’t take breaks, and fired for labor organizing.

But cynicism gets us nowhere.

The announcement shows the fear that Amazon, and by extension the rest of the capitalist class, has of the uprising against not just police killings but of all racist terror in the United States. The strength of these movements is in our numbers. It is not enough, but it should inspire us to continue organizing more and to demand the impossible.