Amazon Bans Police from Using Its Facial Recognition Tech

Facial Recognition by Mike MacKenzie is licensed under Flickr CC BY 2.0

E-commerce giant Amazon has reportedly banned police agencies from using its facial recognition technology for one year in response to growing calls to sever ties with U.S. police departments.

CNBC reports that Amazon stated this week that it is banning the use of its facial recognition software by police for one year. “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,” Amazon said in a statement. “We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”

The move comes as protests continue across the United States over the recent death of George Floyd. Some have welcomed Amazon’s decision to temporarily stop offering police access to its software. Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), who serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is hopeful that Congress will soon pass a bill regulating the use of facial recognition tech.

Discussing Amazon’s decision, Rep. Gomez stated: “It’s a good first step, but it’s still not enough.” He added: “They’re saying, ‘we’ve been asking Congress to put guardrails on the use of this technology,’ – but every time we tried to get more and more data they stalled – and we had to have hearings to make movement on the issue.”