The Guy Who Wants To Sell Dangerous Facial Recognition Tech Also Reckons He Should Write The Laws On It

29 September 2019
Gear, Technology, Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Facial Recognition, News
Image: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos with a classic 'yeah nah, don't worry about it ay'

There are a lot of veritable minefields right now when it comes to writing up new laws to regulate a tech industry that, for all we know, wants to commoditise every single facet of the human experience as much as it humanly can. We've only just heard about the Zuck's new plans to bring the world mind-reading wristbands, but it may also surprise you to know that a technology that we've actually had around for quite a long time — facial recognition software, still isn't that well regulated.

While it's something we only really experience day-to-day when we use Face ID, human recognition is still a rapidly expanding sector within tech, promising new innovations in everything from security to surveillance. The problem, as we've seen in China and that we're increasingly seeing in the growing presence of the surveillance states in countries like the UK and the US, is that right now there's not much stopping either governments or companies from using the tech to commit sweeping privacy and human rights violations.

Take, for instance, Amazon, who have just sold their Rekognition technology to police forces in both Oregon and Florida, as well as pitched it to the controversial US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, better known notoriously as ICE. This is a tech, that, accoriding to Gizmodo, is rife with issues that make it even harder to regulate effectively.

"A short list might include Rekognition misidentifying 28 members of Congress as criminals, reports it is plagued by racial and gender bias, Amazon’s admission it does not and can not control abuse by customers, its seeming plans to integrate the software into home surveillance systems, and the fact that one of its most recent milestones was identifying expressions of terror on people’s faces," an article by the Tech outlet read.

"Amazon’s own employees have protested Rekognition and Amazon Web Services’ other contracts with law enforcement. Orlando cops ditched their Rekognition contract after finding it rife with bugs. There’s also the inconvenience of the ongoing Department of Justice antitrust investigation into Amazon’s business practices, which should make anyone wary of the company’s intentions."

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's solution to the problem? Eh, he'll just write it up himself.

"Our public policy team is actually working on facial recognition regulations; it makes a lot of sense to regulate that,” Bezos said in response to a reporter’s question, suggesting that they're going to get as many of their public policy suggestions enshrined into US law as possible.

“It’s a perfect example of something that has really positive uses, so you don’t want to put the brakes on it,” Bezos added, clearly referring to his own tech. “But, at the same time, there’s also potential for abuses of that kind of technology, so you do want regulations. It’s a classic dual-use kind of technology.”

“[You can] have good things or you can have bad things,” he added. And if that's not a dangerous sign of the times, we don't know what is.

Cheers, Jeff.

Via GQ Australia